The National Hockey League turns 100 years old in 2017 and will be celebrating throughout those entire twelve months. The league announced their plans today which include Wayne Gretzky serving as “official ambassador” for the celebrations, an interactive truck exhibit tour to all NHL markets and “dozens of other local hockey communities,” the selection of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history and the commemorations of the founding of the league, the first games played and the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup.
The celebrations will kick off on January 1, 2017 with the NHL Centennial Classic (an outdoor game, of course) at Toronto’s BMO Field between the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. It will continue through the NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles (January 27-29), the NHL Winter Classic in St. Louis (January 2), the NHL Stadium Series in Pittsburgh (February 25), the NHL Awards in Las Vegas (June 2017) and the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago (June 23-24).
In addition to that, the NHL will participate in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on January 2 and will celebrate the Stanley Cup’s 125th Anniversary in Ottawa on March 15-18, the 100th anniversary founding of the league on November 26 in Montreal and the 100th anniversary of the first games played on December 19 in Ottawa (Ottawa was the site of the first game in NHL history: a 7-4 Montreal Canadiens victory over the Ottawa Senators).
The truck tour will feature a “53-foot museum truck that includes an interactive interior with original video content, exclusive memorabilia, and fan activations.” There will also be “a second 53-foot trailer with giant video screen for viewing parties and stage for player and alumni appearances.” In addition it will feature “a pop-up synthetic rink for youth hockey games and clinics.” The tour launches at the Centennial Classic on January 1.
The Tournament of Roses Parade will feature a float commemorating the NHL’s 100th and the Los Angeles Kings’ 50th anniversaries. NBC will cover the parade as a lead-in to the Winter Classic outdoor game between the Blues and Chicago Blackhawks.
The NHL will also announce the 100 Greatest Players in NHL History at a gala in Los Angeles in January at the All-Star festivities. “A blue ribbon panel of distinguished members from across the hockey community – including former and current executives, media members, and NHL alumni” will vote for the 100 Greatest Players in NHL History. The first group of players will be announced at the Centennial Classic and they will include the 100 greatest players from the pre-expansion years (1917 to 1966). The press release says that “the remaining players will be unveiled at a special ceremony in Los Angeles during NHL All-Star weekend” which would lead me to believe that there are going to actually be 200 players on this list (100 pre-expansion and 100 post-expansion). We will see how that all shakes down.
The Stanley Cup celebrations will commemorate the 125th anniversary of Lord Stanley of Preston donating the Stanley Cup in 1893. These celebrations will take place in Ottawa in connection with Canada’s 150th celebrations (Canada will be celebrating 150 years of confederation in 2017).
There will also be two documentaries released during the celebrations. One will release in March during the Stanley Cup celebrations in Ottawa and will focus on the iconic trophy’s 125 years. Then, in November 2017, the NHL will release a documentary “covering the key moments and milestones in the League’s 100-year history.”
There will also be 100 Iconic NHL Moments unveiled throughout the Fall of 2017. These will include the greatest “goals, games, the odd and unusual, and seminal events in history.” In addition, the NHL will create a time capsule. Each day throughout the 2017 calendar year, the NHL will share milestones from the league’s 100 years “with fans across all platforms – online, broadcast, and social – with original stories and videos.”
There will be further information on some of these events and celebrations released at a later date.