Tickets for Yellowknife's Hockey Day in Canada events will go on sale from Wednesday, December 11, organizers announced at a news conference in the city.
Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada comes to Yellowknife from February 5-8, 2020. Four days of hockey-related events culminate in a nationwide, 13-hour live broadcast hosted by Ron MacLean from Somba K'e Park.
It's the first time Hockey Day has come to the Northwest Territories.
Sportsnet revealed the Stanley Cup will also head to Norman Wells and Délįne – which has long considered itself a birthplace of hockey – in the same week.
A two-month build-up to Hockey Day began at Yellowknife's City Hall with a news conference featuring a range of local dignitaries in hockey jerseys.
MacLean, joining the news conference by video – with a Yellowknife Wolfpack jersey hanging diplomatically in the room behind him – said he expected the week to be "really special."
"I started my hockey career in Whitehorse, so I'm also a child of the North in the sense of my love of the game," said MacLean, explaining his father was stationed in the Yukon at the time.
"Our aim is to not just reflect the game but to reflect the stage, the Arctic experience," he said. "I was raised for five years of my life in it."
Ticketed events include a "music of hockey" evening with MacLean, a gala dinner, a breakfast hosted by former NHL player Andrew Ference, and a hockey game featuring NHL alumni alongside locals.
Tickets go on sale online – details will appear on the City of Yellowknife's website – at noon on December 11, and will then be available for physical collection from December 18 at City Hall. (If you purchase tickets after that, they'll be available from City Hall the day after you buy them.)
Merchandise will be sold at the Erasmus Apparel and Lake Awry store, and should be available before Christmas.
Events begin with a reception on Wednesday night and a draft where teams will be picked for the alumni game, followed by the music event, which will feature Digawolf, Karen Novak from Welders Daughter, and Wesley Hardisty. The three are each "writing songs about the game of hockey," said Joel Darling, Sportsnet's executive producer of the week's coverage. Dave Bidini, the Rheostatics member who spent some time in Yellowknife several years ago, will produce the music show.
On Saturday, said Darling, a festival will take place at Somba K'e Park with Frame Lake as the backdrop for the main broadcast. Two rinks and an oval will be built on Frame Lake, where MacLean will host the show as a pond hockey tournament takes place.
Clinics for kids will be held throughout the week.
Darling said a camera crew spent time in Yellowknife last week producing TV features on Riley Oldford, Robin Mercer-Sproule, and the late Carl Bulger.
Oldford, a teenager with cerebral palsy, has helped to introduce sledge hockey to Yellowknife; Mercer-Sproule recently entered the NWT Sport Hall of Fame for her achievements in hockey and other sports; and Bulger, who passed away in 2018, is considered one of Yellowknife's biggest contributors to the sporting community.
Other events due to take place that week include the Challenge Cup hockey games – contested between male and female teams of two Yellowknife high schools, Sir John Franklin and St Pat's. Both high-school games will take place at the Multiplex ahead of the NHL alumni game.
Lanny McDonald – who played more than a thousand NHL games in the 1970 and 1980s, mostly for the Maple Leafs and Flames – is a confirmed attendee, as are Darcy Tucker and Wendel Clark.
Kids in the audience at Wednesday's Hockey Day news conference. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
The Saturday half-day live show aired by Sportsnet and CBC – which involves all seven Canadian NHL teams in action – is one of the biggest opportunities in Yellowknife's recent history for the city to advertise itself to the rest of the country.
"We're thrilled to host the entire nation," said Mayor Rebecca Alty on Wednesday. "We look forward to celebrating the game we love in the place we call home, and sharing it with hockey legends."
Chief Edward Sangris of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, wearing an Edmonton Oilers jersey, said Hockey Day would "showcase our love of hockey in Yellowknife."
The City made a fresh appeal for volunteers, saying that the response so far had been good but more were needed.
No direct mention was made of Don Cherry – MacLean's longtime broadcasting partner, who was fired last month over comments related to immigrants and the wearing of remembrance poppies – other than MacLean, in one aside, suggesting he had been "in the witness protection program for four weeks."
NHL games featured in the Saturday broadcast are:
- 12pm: Winnipeg Jets vs Ottawa Senators
- 5pm: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens (CBC)
- 5pm: San Jose Sharks vs Edmonton Oilers (Sportsnet)
- 8pm: Vancouver Canucks vs Calgary Flames
Cabin Radio will broadcast live from a range of Hockey Day in Canada events. Stay tuned for more details.