WEEI Radio in Boston is reporting that the Philadelphia Flyers will travel to Fenway Park on New Years Day 2010 to take on the Boston Bruins in the third-ever Winter Classic. The news comes as a complete 180-degree turn from just a few days ago, when reports stated that the Washington Capitals would be facing off against the Bruins at the 37,000 seat ballpark.
On Monday, Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post reported that Capitals general manager George McPhee is having doubts that his team will be taking part in the event. "It doesn't sound like we will be part of it," McPhee said. "I would just assume if we were in it that we would know by now."
Of course, there has been no official announcement from the league that the Bruins hosting the game at Fenway is even a certainty. Here's what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told El-Bashir last week in Las Vegas.
"I'm not in a position to make any announcements right now," Bettman said. "I know there are a lot of rumors that are floating about. But at this point in time I'm going to leave them rumors. There are a lot of places that would be cool to have it in. Boston is a great city, but we have lots of great cities that would like to have the Winter Classic. I'm not ruling in or out anything."
Then again, the 2009 Winter Classic was rumored to be heading to Wrigley Field right around this time last year, but the NHL didn't make an official announcement until July. In this regard, anything Bettman says has to be taken with a grain of salt.
But if it is true that the Flyers will play the Bruins in an outdoor game on New Years Day, the news has its pros and cons. Without a doubt, being selected to play in one of the league's most signature events, in a historic ballpark such as Fenway, is an honor the Flyers cannot and will not turn down. But at the same time, it will be a road game -- outside -- with probably 30,000 people cheering for the other team. Tickets for such an event in a stadium as small as Fenway Park will not be easy to come by, and getting a sizeable number of Philadelphia fans into the event would be a daunting task.
The biggest con, however, would be that the proposed Flyers versus Penguins game at Penn State would certainly be held off for quite some time. That event would be something as epic as any other event in Flyers history, and certainly one of the most memorable sporting events in our lifetimes. Two young, rising rivals facing off in one of the largest stadiums in the country, right smack in the middle of the state that they both battle to own.
If the Flyers are invited to play at Fenway, it would be an exciting day for all of us. But it's tough to argue that it wouldn't pale in comparison to a Battle of Pennsylvania in Happy Valley.