CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks have spent some time at the University of Notre Dame for past training camps. Now they look forward to playing outdoors there when they face the Boston Bruins in the 2019 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium on Jan. 1.
The Blackhawks have strong ties to Notre Dame. General manager Stan Bowman graduated from the university in 1995, and Chicago has held part of its training camp at Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena four times (2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2017-18).
“[In 2015] we got a chance to go to a football game (vs. Georgia Tech) and see what it’s all about, and that was definitely special,” center Jonathan Toews said at the Winter Classic press conference at the United Center on Thursday. “So to think we’re going to have a chance to get in there and play some hockey, it’s going to be pretty cool.
“It’s a new atmosphere. You want take a look around, soak in a little bit before you get focused on the game itself. It’s something both fan bases can really get excited about. And then there are the bragging rights. You want your fans to show up and support it and make it a memorable experience.”
Blackhawks president John McDonough joked that it would be nice if they fared better in outdoor games — they’re 1-4, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 in the NHL Stadium Series game at Soldier Field in Chicago on March 1, 2014. But he said it’s always a privilege to be in them, and playing at Notre Dame Stadium will be special.
“It’s a majestic place, an historic, amazing place,” McDonough said. “You have two teams you’re matching up against that were recent Stanley Cup champions. If someone would have said 15 years ago, you’re going to have an outdoor game against the [Detroit] Red Wings at Wrigley Field and you’re going to play the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field in front of 70-something thousand, and then at Notre Dame, you wouldn’t have believed it. But we’re very fortunate.”