Winter Classic likely at Heinz Field

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A few details still have to be addressed, but things are falling into place for the Penguins and Washington to play the NHL's 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field Jan. 1.

There is no word on when an official announcement will come. The NHL traditionally does not make one until mid-summer, around the time the coming season's schedule is released.

Neither the Penguins nor the league will confirm that the game will played here.

It takes approximately two weeks to build and prepare an outdoor rink like the kind used in the NHL's New Year's Day games, so the Steelers' schedule will have to be tailored to allow for that work to be done.

They are expected to play a home game Thursday, Dec. 23, then finish the regular season on the road the following weekend. NFL schedules will be released next month.

There will be a "rain date" set in the event the game cannot be played outdoors Jan. 1, but it is not known if that has been done yet.

PNC Park has been ruled out as a possible site for the game and, from all indications, never was a serious candidate to play host to it, primarily because of the larger seating capacity at Heinz Field.

The Penguins played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo in the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008. They defeated the Sabres, 2-1, in a shootout, with Sidney Crosby scoring the deciding goal.


For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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