BOSTON – The worst kept secret in sports is the location for the NHL Winter Classic, which has been held since 2008 every New Years Day. Guess What? That secret has finally been revealed.
After a few months of speculation, the 2010 Winter Classic was finally announced to the public with “Americas Most Beloved Ballpark” Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox as the host with the Boston Bruins facing off against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“In a very short time the Winter Classic has become a hallmark event of the NHL Regular Season,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in his opening statement. “We barely drop the puck for the opening faceoff and the speculation begins where we are going to play the game next. There is buildup, excitement and anticipation that is good for our fans, for the growth of our sport and it is great for the communities for which we bring to this great outdoor event.
“I am pleased to end the speculation on perhaps what has been the worst kept secret there is, and in 2010 a unique and iconic event, which certainly deserves a unique and iconic venue, will be played at Fenway Park.”
Now that the event has been announced, and the NHL Regular Season Schedule is out, we are now officially 170 days away from the Winter Classic. While many people might not be thinking about hockey right now, the excitement that this announcement has brought to the league and the city of Boston is endless.
Memories of Pond Hockey:
Playing in a outdoor hockey game or even just playing pond hockey growing up is one of the most unique aspects to the sport.
In this decade alone we saw “The Cold War” between Michigan and Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in 2001, The Heritage Classic in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens, The Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic at Lambeau field between Wisconsin and Ohio State, the 2008 Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo with the Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins and this past year’s Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in Chicago with the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.
A couple Bruins played an outdoor hockey game before (although not the Winter Classic) as defenseman Aaron Ward and forward Marco Sturm shared their thoughts on previous pond hockey experience while playing for the same team.
“The last time I played outdoors was in Germany (with Marco Sturm),” said Ward on his pond hockey experience. “”We were playing in Germany and getting there I was thinking ‘I was not ethnocentric of what’s going on here and how are we going to pull this off?’ But, when we got out there I got pretty excited and I enjoyed the experience.”
In case you’re wondering Ward and Sturm won that game. “Marco scored with three seconds left to win the game 4-3,” Ward said.
Besides the game itself, the elements should play a factor into this. The 2008 game in Buffalo saw some snow and last year at Wrigley, a field that is known to be windy at times, the teams changed sides halfway through the third period.
One can expect the Weather to be a factor in this game. Ward knows about it from his pond hockey experience in Germany. Tying it in to the weather in New England, not so much.
“It was cold, but no snow,” said Ward. “Obviously if you’re a New Englander you need to prepare yourself of anything and everything.
“You ask me the day of and you ask me how it was like,” Ward jokingly added.
While he might not have played in the Winter Classic, Bruins Vice President Cam Neely would like to get on the ice at Fenway as well. Perhaps he will sneak a skate in before the game.
Neely could never envision the day during his playing career that there would be an Outdoor hockey game in Boston.
“I could never envision a Regular Season NHL game during my career,” said Neely. “It is fantastic for everybody involved for our fans and our organization. I think it’s just incredible to be able to see these guys have an opportunity to skate at Fenway. It’s going to be a great opportunity.”
Neely however stated his intentions to sneak in a skate on the Fenway ice.
“I’m going to sneak out here, there’s no question,” said Neely. “I’m putting on the blades, I have to do that.”
And with that there are approximately 24 weeks until the 2010 Winter Classic.