Bedard at Wrigley for WC announcement

CHICAGO -- Connor Bedard stepped out of the home dugout at Wrigley Field, taking a few photos of the classic ballpark with his cell phone.

In July, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft threw out the first pitch at the home of MLB’s Chicago Cubs. Next season, the Chicago Blackhawks center will return there on Dec. 31 to play the first outdoor game of his life when the Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues in the 2025 Discover NHL Winter Classic.

Bedard, who has been out with a broken jaw since Jan. 5, was at Wrigley Field on Wednesday to help make the announcement.

“I think if you ask any kid, there’s a bucket list of things and an outdoor game of course is one of them,” said Bedard, who leads NHL rookies with 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 39 games. “It’s a pretty exciting announcement.”

The game, which will start at 5 p.m. ET; will be televised exclusively on TNT in the United States, and Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.

Additional details, including ticketing information, will be announced when available. Fans can sign up for news and updates on the 2025 Discover NHL Winter Classic here.

The 2025 Winter Classic will be held at Wrigley Field

After the announcement, Bedard took advantage of his short time at Wrigley and the agreeable weather: 43 degrees, with winds blowing toward left field. The ballpark is undergoing renovations, but Bedard was able to take the field briefly.

The 18-year-old, who said he played one year of T-ball “and then called it quits,” threw another pitch from the mound, waving to the empty seats afterward in pretend appreciation for his effort. He then took a few at-bats, lining a shot over second base and into center field.

Not surprisingly, Bedard retrieved his own hit.

“It was pretty fun being out there and obviously when it’s full and everything, it’s unreal,” Bedard said. “But when there’s no one there, it’s peaceful and you’re just kind of looking at it. It’s pretty special. I find all those older buildings and stuff like that pretty cool, so this is definitely one of those.”

The 2025 game will be a rematch of the 2017 NHL Winter Classic played at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Blues won that game 4-1 in front of 46,556 fans.

Wrigley Field was the venue for the NHL's second Winter Classic, played Jan. 1, 2009, between the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Detroit won 6-4 in front of a crowd of 40,818.

This is the second time the NHL is returning to a venue for a Winter Classic. Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, played host to the game on Jan. 1, 2010, and Jan. 2, 2023.

The 2025 Winter Classic will be the Blackhawks' NHL-high seventh outdoor game and first since the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana, on Jan. 1, 2019. They lost 4-2 to the Boston Bruins.

Chicago is 1-5-0 in outdoor games. It also played in the 2014 Stadium Series at Soldier Field in Chicago, the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington, and the 2016 Stadium Series at TCF Bank Stadium, now known as Huntington Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis.

Bedard didn’t remember the Blackhawks’ first game at Wrigley -- he was 3 years old -- nor has he seen clips of it. He has vivid memories of the 2014 game at Soldier Field.

“I remember that one really well, like weirdly well,” Bedard said with a laugh. “I remember watching it and (former Blackhawks center Jonathan) Toews’ breakaway goal and how snowy it was. So yeah, I don’t know why but I remember that one crazy well.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins have also played six outdoor games.

The Blues are 2-0-0 in outdoor games, defeating the Blackhawks in the 2017 Winter Classic and the Minnesota Wild 6-4 in the 2022 Winter Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis.

The Blackhawks and Blues have played 330 regular-season games against each other, with Chicago holding a 24-point edge (Blackhawks: 155-129-46, 356 points; Blues: 140-138-52, 332 points). Chicago and St. Louis have faced off 12 times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the Blackhawks winning eight of those series but losing their most recent matchup, a seven-game series in the 2016 Western Conference First Round.

There have been 39 NHL outdoor games since 2003, with two more to be played this season. The 2024 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series features the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and New York Rangers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the home of the NFL's New York Giants and New York Jets.

The Devils and Flyers will play Feb. 17 (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, TVAS-D, SN1). The Rangers and Islanders will face off Feb. 18 (3 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS).

Bedard has hit quite a few firsts in his brief time in the NHL. He’ll enjoy another one when he takes the ice at Wrigley next year.

“Yeah, it’s part of history and obviously the sports in Chicago are pretty iconic,” Bedard said. “Kind of combining the two is special.” senior writer Dan Rosen contributed to this report