The Carolina Hurricanes will play the Washington Capitals in the 2023 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series game at Carter-Finley Stadium on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Feb. 18.
“I’m sure it’s going to be awesome,” Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho said. “I know the fans are excited, and us players too. The first time in Carolina and it’s going to be awesome, so I can’t wait for that.”
The NHL said at the 2022 Honda All-Star Game the Hurricanes would host the game but did not reveal an opponent or date until Thursday.
“You’re going to expose the game of hockey to a lot of people that may not be familiar with the game,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said Feb. 4. “People like big events. Having a big event here, at a stadium with 55,000-plus seats, you’re going to have your hockey fans, but you’re going to get a lot of people that haven’t experienced it too. I think this is where the win-win comes in for all of us.”
The 2023 Stadium Series will be the Hurricanes’ first outdoor game, making them the 28th NHL team to play in one. Carolina was supposed to host the Stadium Series game at Carter-Finley Stadium in 2021, but that was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s not going to be a bad seat,” Waddell said. “I’ve spent a lot of time over there. If you’re on the sidelines, 20 feet behind you are the seats. There’s not a big runway. It’s going to allow people to be a lot closer to the game than the other venues.”
It will be the fourth regular-season outdoor game for the Capitals, who have won their previous three. They defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh; the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in the 2015 NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington; and the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 in the 2018 NHL Stadium Series at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.
Washington coach Peter Laviolette was Carolina coach from 2003-09 and won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.
“It’s awesome,” Laviolette said. “You see what happened in Nashville with their outside game (the 2022 NHL Stadium Series) and what goes with that, that’s spectacular. I’m familiar with the building that it’s going to (be in) because I was just coaching there for five or six years, and having it being right next to the rink, you went to football games there and it’s a great facility.
“Good for Carolina to get an outdoor game. Good for the fans and the Carolina market, and we’re certainly excited to be a part of it. Any time you can take into an event like that, you draw in with your team and your organization and your fan base going to an event like that, it’s a really cool day, and so we’re excited about it.”
The Hurricanes defeated the Capitals in seven games in the Eastern Conference First Round in 2019.
“It’s a great matchup for us,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour told its website. “Obviously we’ve had a pretty good history here with them lately and they’ve been one of the best teams in the league for a while. That’s the type of team we’re trying to become, so I think it’s a great fit and hopefully it’s a great game.”
Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal played against the Capitals in the 2011 Winter Classic when he was with the Penguins.
“The outdoor experience is exactly what you think it’ll be,” Staal told the Hurricanes website. “I’m assuming for a lot of players they grew up playing outdoors, and it’s where a lot of players fell in love with the game. Being outside with your friends, playing the game and just having fun with it. Then you upgrade that to playing in front of 60,000 fans, doing it in the NHL, and it all comes together for a very special moment and a very special thing.”
The NHL previously said that the Boston Bruins would host the 2023 NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park. No date for the annual game usually played on New Year’s Day has been announced.
NHL.com staff writer Tom Gulitti and independent correspondent Harvey Valentine contributed to this report