Thursday, September 29, 2011

But will the Philly Fanatic be in attendance?

The NHL's annual salute to outdoor hockey will shift to Philadelphia this year, that was the message delivered by Gary Bettman on Monday, announcing that this year's Winter Classic will take place at Citizens Bank Park on January 2nd.

Yes, that's a switch of the annual New Year's Day celebration, but even the NHL knows it's telegenic limitations, New Year's Day this year lands on a Sunday, and in the NFL mad world of American television,  running up against that behemoth isn't the wisest of strategies.

So, with New Year's Day now a free day, the Flyers and Rangers can nurse their New Year's Eve hangovers for 24 hours before taking to battle at the home of the Phillies and their Fanatic.

Once Citizen's Bank Park is transferred into the NHL's version of Golden Pond, the ice will stay in for at least a week, as the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms and Hershey Bears compete in their own version of a Winter Classic, set for January 6th.

The path to the Winter Classic once again will be tracked by HBO which last year featured the way with words that Bruce Boudreau had as he inspired his Capitals to be prepared for the match up with the Penguins.

Of course, Boudreau suffered the attention of the grammar and obscenity watchdogs once his pre game and intermissions intercessions became public and the Capitals famously imploded during the playoffs, leaving the marquee value of the Capitals to be lost in the early days of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Likewise, the Winter Classic will be remembered in Pittsburgh, where of course the NHL's main star attraction Sidney Crosby suffered a key hit during last year's Classic, one which many suggest marks the beginning of his now well documented concussion struggles.

Suffice to say, considering how the 2011 season ended for both teams, we imagine the memories of the 2011 Classic and the media attention attendant to it,  aren't all fond ones for the Caps and Pens.

Still, it is the one appointment TV moment for the NHL in America, so the annual trek to outdoor hockey will continue, offering up the Rangers and the Flyers, a match up steeped in modern NHL history and one which of course always seems to border on an all out gang war at times.

Weather as always will play a key factor in the success of the Winter Classic, and the further south the NHL strays for their Winter Celebration, the more finicky the weather Gods could become.  Unlike lets say Chicago, Detroit or Minnesota, Philly could feature anything from a torrential rain to a blinding snowstorm in the always challenging month of January.

Perhaps a sacrifice or two to the weather Gods could help,  Commissioner's choice....

The NHL's PR department was busy on Monday with a number of missives on the New Year's Day plans.

Rangers, Flyers ready for attention of '24/7'
Rangers embrace daunting season-opening trip
Winter Classic coaches have much in common
Foe, proximity have Rangers excited for Classic
Role as Winter Classic host has Flyers awed, excited
Sather sets tone for Winter Classic with remarks
Despite pressure to deliver snow,  Phillies excited
Flyers' AHL team to play outdoors vs. Hershey
Citizens Bank provides new challenges for Craig
Recalling top moments in Winter Classic History
Flyers better equipped to soak in second Classic
Flyers to host the Rangers in the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic

Some of the background on this years Winter Classic announcement, from other media sources, can be found below.

Philadelphia Inquirer-- It's Broad Street vs. Broadway
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Still No Winter Classic ticket announcement
Philadelphia Daily News-- Flyers-Rangers in Winter Classic
Philadelphia Daily News-- Flyers to host Winter Classic
New York Post-- Rangers, Flyers trade taunts to announce Winter Classic
New York Daily News-- NHL Winter Classic to feature NY Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers
New York Times-- Rangers Land inn Winter Classic, Then in an On-Ice controversy
USA Today-- Flyers to host Rangers in Jan. 2 Winter Classic
Fox 42-- Hershey Bears comete in first ever outdoor game

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