Versus Joins Outdoor Hockey Rush With 2011 Heritage Classic

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Versus will skate into the outdoor hockey business next February.

Comcast's sports service and the exclusive U.S. national cable carrier of the National Hockey League will televise the Heritage Classic, featuring the Calgary Flames and their star Jarome Iginla against the Montreal Canadiens from McMahon Stadium on Feb. 20, according to network officials.  Home to the Canadien Football League's Calgary Stampeders, the venue was also the site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympics.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the contest at a May 28 press conference.

Montreal, which has won an NHL record 24 Stanley Cups and reached the 2010 Eastern conference finals before succumbing to the Philadelphia Flyers, was part of the initial outdoor game in Canada, playing against the Edmonton Oilers at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta on Nov. 22, 2003 in the first Heritage Classic.

Since then, the NHL has build exposure and ratings by staging Winter Classics on New Year's Day, with the contest televised by NBC as a sports programming alternative on what has traditionally been a huge day for college football bowls.

Come the first day of 2011, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby will host the Washington Capitals and their star Alex Ovechkin at Heinz Field, home to the National Football League Steelers.