For quite a while now, reliable sources have indicated that the next Winter Classic is likely to be held at Fenway Park in Boston on January 1, 2010.
But here is another twist. Rumors are flying as to whom the Boston Bruins would host in the third such outdoor game in the United States in as many years and the fourth overall in league history.
Here are two sources that are giving us a firm indication that it will be the Philadelphia Flyers.
Anthony J. SanFilippo of the Delaware County Daily Times reported yesterday:
I made a couple phone calls and exchanged a couple emails and I can now confirm that speculation is true.
The Flyers will square off with the Bruins on January 1, 2010 at Fenway Park.
It's an interesting story how it came to be that the Flyers were picked for this event.
The NHL was pushing the Washington Capitals. They wanted to market Alex Ovechkin.
NBC, the network broadcasting the game, said no dice.
They were concerned with the poor ratings the Caps' produced in the playoffs in an opening round series against the New York Rangers - the #1 U.S. market for the NHL.
So, they told the NHL to skip Washington and give them the Flyers... a more certain brand to market.
The NHL was stubborn for a while... mostly because the Flyers were more interested in a January 1 date with Pittsburgh than Boston.
However, the NHL assured the Flyers that a future Flyers-Penguins outdoor game could still happen in a couple years.
The Flyers were satisfied and agreed to play.
The NHL then confirmed for NBC that the Flyers would in fact play.
No official announcement has come from the league or the Flyers, but sources have confirmed to me that this is the case.
Jeff Howe of Metro reported hours ago:
The other game will feature the Boston College men's hockey team, but final details are still being worked out regarding the timing of the game. A separate source, who also requested anonymity because an official announcement has not yet been made, indicated Boston University is talking with Fenway Sports Group about the possibility of playing at Fenway.
BU coach Jack Parker told Metro during the Frozen Four in April he was hoping the Terriers would be invited to play in the Winter Classic when rumors first started swirling about Boston hosting the event. Boston College and Boston University have been trying to schedule a game at Fenway Park for a few years.
BU, BC and Fenway Sports Group all declined comment for this story. Official word regarding the Winter Classic is expected to come from the NHL next month.
The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres in the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The 2009 edition was held at Wrigley Field with the Detroit Red Wings defeating the Chicago Blackhawks.
So until the game and the two participating teams are confirmed by the National Hockey League with the upcoming official announcement, let the chatter begin as to whether it will definitely be the Flyers playing the Bruins. If it holds true, than this would be a good matchup to watch.