By StephanieLee Elliott
All notes are based on rosters as of Oct. 25, 2023.
The NHL will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first regular-season outdoor game in League history when the Oilers host the Flames in the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at the home of the CFL’s Edmonton Elks, Commonwealth Stadium, on Oct. 29 (7 p.m. ET on SN, TVAS, TBS, MAX). It will mark the first time the historic “Battle of Alberta” will take place in an outdoor setting.
* The game will take place 20 years after the Oilers hosted the first Heritage Classic and the first-ever NHL regular-season outdoor game – also at Commonwealth Stadium – against the Canadiens on Nov. 22, 2003.
* The first Heritage Classic 20 years ago was a celebration of hockey that included an alumni game with legends from the Oilers dynasty of the 1980s such as Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr and Jari Kurri facing off with Canadiens Hall of Famers including Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe and Steve Shutt. Additionally, Mark Messier, who at the time was an active NHL player and the Rangers’ captain, received special permission to represent the Oilers in the legends game and be a part of the festivities.
* When the Canadiens defeated the Oilers in the first NHL regular-season game contested outdoors, 57,167 fans braved frigid temperatures (0ºF/-18ºC) to watch Montreal edge out a 4-3 win after a pair of goals from both Richard Zednik and Yanic Perreault. It still stands as the highest attendance for a regular-season NHL game played in Canada and was the coldest outdoor game played until the 2022 Winter Classic between the Blues and Wild in Minneapolis (-6ºF/-21ºC). Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore earned the victory with a 34-save effort, famously donning a toque to help manage the sub-zero temperatures.
* The success of that first outdoor game in Edmonton 20 years ago spawned other series of NHL outdoor games including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series. To date there have been 37 regular-season outdoor games played, attended by 1,851,642 fans (an average of 52,904 per game when fans could attend; 35 of 37 games).
* This will mark the seventh game played under the Heritage Classic banner with both Edmonton and Calgary competing in the event for the third time, more than any other team. It will also mark the third Heritage Classic game contested in Alberta – no other province has hosted more than one.
* Alberta’s two NHL teams have competed in the same division for 42 years (since 1981-82) and are separated by approximately 300 kilometers.
* They have met 259 times in the regular season with Calgary holding a 129-106-24 (282 points) advantage in those head-to-head meetings (EDM: 112-120-27, 251 points).
* The two teams have met in the playoffs six times, with Edmonton (5-1) winning five of the six series between the clubs and claiming 23 of the 35 contests. That includes three Game 7s, with the Oilers holding a 2-1 edge in the winner-take-all scenario.
* The two teams most recently met in the postseason in the 2022 Second Round, with the Oilers advancing in five games. The series included an unforgettable Game 1 in which the teams combined for 15 goals in Calgary’s 9-6 victory. It marked the highest-scoring “Battle of Alberta” playoff game ever, the ninth postseason contest in NHL history with 15+ goals scored, the fastest two tallies from the start of a playoff game in NHL history, the Oilers rallying from a four-goal deficit to tie the game and a Matthew Tkachuk hat trick to finish the Flames’ victory.
* One of either the Oilers or Flames appeared in the Stanley Cup Final for eight consecutive seasons from 1983 to 1990, with Edmonton winning the championship in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990 while the Flames claimed the franchise’s only Stanley Cup in 1989.
* The two teams met in the postseason four times across six seasons from 1983 to 1988, with the Oilers defeating the Flames in Game 5 of the 1983 Division Finals, Game 7 of the 1984 Division Finals and Game 4 of the 1988 Division Finals over that timeframe. Calgary claimed its lone series win over Edmonton in Game 7 of the 1986 Division Finals.
* Speaking to the dominance of the two franchises during the 1980s, a total of 14 Hockey Hall of Fame members skated for the two clubs during the decade.
* The Oilers (1-1-0) are set to play outdoors for the third time after a 4-3 loss to the Canadiens at the NHL’s inaugural regular-season outdoor game, the 2003 Heritage Classic, as well as a 3-0 win against the Jets at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.
* Connor McDavid (5) and Leon Draisaitl (1) have combined to win the Art Ross Trophy in six of the last seven seasons and will both be suiting up for their second career outdoor game. McDavid (0-1—1 in 1 GP) is looking for his first goal in an outdoor game, while Draisaitl was held off the score sheet in his only previous appearance.
* Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell are each entering the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in search of their first appearance in an NHL outdoor game.
* Four players who skated for the Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic remain with the club: McDavid, Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. McDavid (0-1—1), Nurse (1-0—1) and Nugent-Hopkins (0-1—1) each got on the score sheet in 2016.
* Cam Talbot stopped all 31 shots he faced for the Oilers in the 2016 Heritage Classic, one of four shutouts in NHL outdoor game history.
* Connor Brown, in his first season with the Oilers, recorded 1-2—3 for the Maple Leafs at the 2017 Centennial Classic. At the time, it matched the single-game high by any player in an NHL outdoor game – a record now held by Blues forward Jordan Kyrou (2-2—4 at 2022 Winter Classic).
* The Flames (1-0-1) are also set to play outdoors for the third time after a 4-0 win against the Canadiens in the 2011 Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium in Calgary and a 2-1 overtime loss versus the Jets in the 2019 Heritage Classic at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
* Mikael Backlund (2 GP) is the only current Flames player who has represented the team in each of its outdoor games. The only other current Calgary player with more than one NHL outdoor game is Nazem Kadri (1-0—1 in 4 GP: 2014 Winter Classic, 2017 Centennial Classic, 2018 Stadium Series, 2021 Outdoors at Lake Tahoe).
* Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar are each entering the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in search of their first appearance in an NHL outdoor game.
* Calgary’s lone outdoor victory at the 2011 Heritage Classic was notable on a couple of fronts: Rene Bourque (2-0—2) scored twice including the game winner and set an outdoor game record with 11 shots on goal, while Flames legend Miikka Kiprusoff (39 saves) posted the first shutout in an NHL regular-season outdoor game. Kiprusoff’s performance remains the highest save total in an outdoor shutout in NHL history.
* Chris Tanev can become the second member of his family to oppose the Oilers in an outdoor game – his brother Brandon Tanev (now with the Kraken) played for Winnipeg in their loss against Edmonton in the 2016 Heritage Classic.
1,851,642 – Total attendance of NHL regular-season outdoor games entering the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic (an average of 52,904 per game when fans could attend; 35 of 37 games played).
245,260 – Total attendance for the six Heritage Classic games played to date (an average of 40,877 per game).
977 – Total number of players and head coaches to participate in an NHL regular-season outdoor game since the inaugural contest in Edmonton 20 years ago (839 skaters, 95 goaltenders & 43 head coaches; including 40 goaltenders who dressed but did not play).
300 – Approximate distance, in kilometers, from Calgary to Edmonton.
260 – All-time regular-season meetings between the Flames and Oilers, with Calgary holding a 129-106-24 (282 points) advantage in those head-to-head meetings (EDM: 112-120-27, 251 points).
53 – Players to skate at least one regular-season or playoff game for both sides in the Battle of Alberta, including current Oilers Brett Kulak (101 GP w/ CGY, 2014-15 to 2017-18) and Derek Ryan (207 GP w/ CGY, 2018-19 to 2020-21), as well as Flames defenseman Jordan Oesterle (25 GP w/ EDM, 2014-15 to 2016-17). Kulak and Ryan are among a group of 11 players to skate at least 100 regular-season games with each franchise. Steve Staios, who factored on all three Edmonton goals in the inaugural NHL regular-season outdoor game in 2003, has the most combined games played between the Oilers (603 GP) and Flames (57 GP), a total of 660.
37 – Regular-season NHL outdoor games entering 2023-24, with that number set to rise to 41 this season (2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, 2024 Discover NHL Winter Classic and two games as part of the 2024 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series).
23 – Outdoor games played in football venues (including the 2023 Heritage Classic). The 15 other NHL outdoor games took place in baseball parks (12 GP), atop a golf course (2 GP) and at a soccer stadium (1 GP).
20 – Wins by the team that scores first in 37 NHL outdoor games to date (20-12-5).
19 – Comeback wins in 37 NHL outdoor games to date, more than half. That includes six multi-goal comeback wins and eight wins by a team that faced any third-period deficit.
18 – Wins by the designated home team in 37 NHL outdoor games to date (18-16-3 overall, including 13-4-1 in the last 18); designated road teams are 19-14-4 to date.
15 – Outdoor games decided by a one-goal margin. An additional eight have been a multi-goal margin which included an empty-net tally (22 of 37, 59%).
14 – Grey Cup victories by the Edmonton Elks franchise, who call Commonwealth Stadium home, the second-highest total in Canadian Football League history.
9 – NHL outdoor games that have been played in Canada (including the 2023 Heritage Classic).
7 – NHL outdoor games that have required overtime (5 decided in OT, 2 in SO).
6 – Combined Stanley Cup wins by the Oilers (5) and Flames (1), all during a seven-season stretch from 1983-84 to 1989-90.
6 – All-time playoff series between Edmonton and Calgary (EDM: 5-1; CGY: 1-5).
4 – Venues to host multiple NHL regular-season outdoor games (Yankee Stadium, Heinz Field, Edgewood Tahoe Resort & Fenway Park), with Commonwealth Stadium and MetLife Stadium set to join the list in 2023-24.
4 – Outdoor games in the 2023-24 NHL season, the third campaign to feature at least four such contests after 2013-14 (6) and 2016-17 (4).
4 – Goaltenders with a shutout in an NHL outdoor game: Miikka Kiprusoff (2011 Heritage Classic w/ CGY), Jonas Hiller (2014 Stadium Series w/ ANA), Cam Talbot (2016 Heritage Classic w/ EDM) and Craig Anderson (NHL100 Classic w/ OTT).
2 – Hat tricks in an NHL outdoor game, achieved by Tyler Toffoli with the Kings in the 2020 Stadium Series at Falcon Stadium and by David Pastrnak with the Bruins in their 2021 NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe game.
2 – Previous NHL outdoor games that have been played in the month of October: the 2016 Heritage Classic between the Oilers and Jets (Oct. 23) and 2019 Heritage Classic between the Flames and Jets (Oct. 26).