The NHL Centennial Classic (branded as the Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic for sponsorship reasons) was a regular season outdoor National Hockey League (NHL) game that was held on January 1, 2017. The game featured the Toronto Maple Leafs taking on the Detroit Red Wings at BMO Field (renamed Exhibition Stadium due to sponsorship rights conflicts). This was the first time an NHL outdoor game was played in Toronto. Announced on March 9, 2016, the game served as a celebration of the centennial season of the Maple Leafs, and the beginning of the NHL's centennial year. It was one of four outdoor regular season games during the 2016–17 NHL season, the others being the 2016 Heritage Classic, 2017 NHL Winter Classic (held on the following day) and the 2017 NHL Stadium Series game. The hosting Maple Leafs pulled out to a 4–1 lead in the third period, only to have the Red Wings score the tying goal with one second remaining in regulation; in overtime, first overall draft pick Auston Matthews scored the game-winning goal, securing a 5–4 victory for the Leafs.
Despite the presence of the Leafs, NBC's overnight ratings for the 2014 Winter Classic were tied with the 2009 edition as the most-watched Winter Classic. The game was also CBC's most-watched regular season Hockey Night in Canada broadcast in history, and had a combined average viewership of 8.234 million in the U.S. and Canada. The decision to include a Canadian team in the 2014 Winter Classic was influenced by the unexpectedly high ratings performance of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final (which featured the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks), which led NBC and the NHL to reconsider the conventional wisdom that a game involving a Canadian opponent would not rate as highly as an all-U.S. matchup.
The 2017 Winter Classic was ultimately awarded to Busch Stadium, and would feature the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks. As January 1, 2017 fell on a Sunday, the NHL followed the precedent of the 2012 Winter Classic and college footballbowl games by scheduling the game Monday, January 2 instead of its traditional New Year's Day scheduling. This decision also opened the January 1 date for a special outdoor game awarded to Toronto, known as the Centennial Classic. The event honoured the centennial season of the Maple Leafs, and also kicked off a year-long celebration of the NHL's centennial year of operation.
On November 8, 2016, the NHL announced that Scotiabank would be the title sponsor of the game. Because the naming rights of BMO Field were held by the Bank of Montreal (BMO), a direct competitor to Scotiabank, the league subsequently referred to the stadium as "Exhibition Stadium", the name of the previous venue which occupied BMO Field's site. The game was played with the venue boasting a temporarily-expanded capacity. The extra seats had originally been installed for the 2016 Grey Cup, and were also used for the 2016 Major League Soccer Eastern Conference Final and 2016 MLS Cup after Toronto FC somewhat unexpectedly earned the right to host those games. Announced attendance of 40,148 broke facility records that had only been recently set by the aforementioned games.
In Canada, the game was broadcast in English on Sportsnet and in French on TVA Sports. In the United States, the game was broadcast by NBC. Epix would produce a documentary series, Road to the NHL Outdoor Classics, focusing on team preparations for the Centennial Classic and the 2017 NHL Winter Classic.
An average of 1.077 million viewers watched the U.S. broadcast, although peaking at 1.577 million by the third period.
The Rogers NHL Centennial Classic Alumni Game was held on December 31, and played between veteran players from both teams. The Red Wings Alumni defeated the Maple Leafs Alumni 4–3.
In the first period, goalie Mike Palmateer stopped Tomas Holmström on a penalty shot and left the game, playing just over two minutes of the game. The Red Wings Alumni lead the game 3-0 to almost the halfway point, with goals from Darren McCarty, Igor Larionov and Brendan Shanahan, but the Maple Leafs Alumni rallied to tie the game, with goals from Wendel Clark, Darcy Tucker and Tie Domi. As the intensity picked up near the end of the game, Gary Roberts and Kris Draper were noted to be somewhat aggressive with one another, despite the friendly atmosphere of the Alumni Game. Draper went on to score the winning goal controversially, with just over a minute left in regulation. The goal was disputed by the Leafs Alumni because the puck was tapped in by Draper on a rebound off a slapshot by Dino Ciccarelli. (Slapshots are customarily not taken in the Alumni Game.)