Caps-Leafs to start military academies series

While Americans across the country spent the day commemorating fallen military heroes on Memorial Day, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman announced a unique partnership with the United States military.

Starting in the 2017-18 season, the NHL will host outdoor games at military service academies around the United States.

The first such contest will take place on March 3, 2018, when the Washington Capitals host the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.

The event, the first of its kind for the NHL at a U.S. military academy, will be held as part of the league’s annual Stadium Series, which has seen games played at a variety of outdoor venues since 2014.

“Just imagine for a second the Navy band playing the Star Spangled Banner on the field,” Bettman said. “That will be 87 years to the day that President Hoover signed the legislation that made it the U.S. national anthem. A little bit of historical trivia.”

The game’s announcement was one of a variety of events Bettman discussed on the eve of Game 1 of the 2017 Stanley Cup finals between the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

Other NHL events confirmed for next season include:

— The 2018 NHL All-Star Weekend will be held at Amelie Arena in Tampa during the last weekend of January.

— Europe will host regular-season games for the first time since 2011 when the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators meet in Stockholm, Sweden. The teams will play Nov. 10 and 11 at Ericsson Globe Arena.

— As part of the league’s centennial celebration next season, the Ottawa Senators will host the NHL 100 Classic against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 16 at Lansdowne Park.

— The Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers will face off in the 2018 Winter Classic at Citi Field. The New Year’s Day game will be played on the 10th anniversary of the outdoor game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo that kicked off the annual event.

— The NHL will launch a long-term commitment to building the game in China with the 2017 China Games, which will see the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings face off in preseason games in Beijing and Shanghai.

— The commitment to China, which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, inevitably turned to discussion of the upcoming 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Bettman revealed that he met with China’s Minister of Sport last month and that there had been no discussion regarding NHL players participating in 2022. He reiterated that the issue of players participating at the 2018 Games in February was effectively dead. “We were very clear and definitive that the teams had no interest in going to the Olympics in Pyeongchang,” he said. “I know there have been a variety of comments either from [IIHF president] Rene Fasel or the International Ice Hockey Federation or from representatives with the players’ association suggesting this was still an open issue. It is not and has not been. I hope that was definitive enough.”

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