Hockey fans will be able to watch the 2017 Winter Classic live online, though those looking forward to the matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues may need a bit of patience to actually watch it.
With rain and thunderstorms in the forecast for Monday at Busch Stadium, league officials are considering the possibility of delaying the start of the annual outdoor hockey game, ESPN reported. The game is originally scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET puck drop, but the league will be monitoring the situation and plans to give an update on Monday at 8 a.m. as to whether it could be delayed.
Fans looking for an update on the status can check the league’s official website.
The weather would have been perfect for a game in St. Louis on New Year’s Day, when the outdoor game is normally held, ESPN noted. But instead the NHL showcased another outdoor match in celebration of its 100th anniversary — the Centennial Classic, where the Toronto Maple Leafs triumphed 5-4 in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings.
But as fans have come to expect, weather problems appear to be an issue for the Winter Classic. The very first game, played on New Year’s Day in 2008, was frequently delayed as crews had to shovel piles of snow in Buffalo.
League officials said that Monday’s game would be played in a light rain, but anything heavier than that would lead to a delay. While it’s not clear how long the puck drop could be pushed back, in the past the league has had no problem putting it off for several hours.
Delays have become commonplace for outdoor NHL games. Sunday’s Centennial Classic in Toronto was delayed for an hour because bright sunshine created a dangerous glare on the ice, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. And the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh was actually delayed for a total of seven hours, making it a night game.
The wild weather and frequent delays are something players have grown accustomed to as well.
“You prepare like you would a normal game,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews told ESPN. “You don’t really know how it can turn out, but at the end of the day, it’s the same for both teams, and it comes down to who’s handling the conditions the best. We played in a game at Soldier Field a couple of years ago, and it was snowing like crazy, and it was tough to even see the puck at times. It was slowing down on you, and it slowed the pace of the game down a little bit. If you don’t make excuses and you just go play through it and know that it’s a challenge both teams have to deal with, maybe you can take advantage of the rough conditions in some ways.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock added that both teams are “ready for anything” including a long delay or an indefinite one where players or coaches don’t have a clear indication of when the puck will drop.
While heavy rain may make it difficult for fans trying to watch the Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues game live online, the players actually taking the ice in the 2017 Winter Classic say they can find ways to pass the time.
“Nowadays, you’ve got cellphones,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “TVs. There’s food. We’ll play cards. We’ll figure something out.”
Fans who want to watch the 2017 Winter Classic live online can click here for streaming video of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues from NBC Sports Extra.
[Featured Image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]