St. Louis Stunner: Ty Conklin Will Not Play in This Year's Winter Classic

Nick FrostCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2009

DETROIT - JUNE 12:  Ty Conklin #29 of the Detroit Red Wings warms up before playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Seven of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

With today's news that free agent goaltender Ty Conklin has signed a two-year deal with the St. Louis Blues, also came the realization that the journeyman backup will not play in the 2009-10 edition of the NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston.

Though I'm sure Conklin and his agent tried their damndest to get a contract to play second fiddle to Tim Thomas in Boston, or third fiddle to "Sugar Ray" Emery in Philadelphia and "Blankin' Brian" Boucher, a deal was simply not available.

Barring a one-game trade to one of the Eastern Conference teams, this will be the first time Conklin has missed an outdoor game since the Heritage Classic took place in 2003.

No one can say for sure, but the goaltender could be feeling one of two emotions right now: either he's sad and disgruntled that he couldn't remain in the only niche that actually keeps him relevant, or he's relieved that he won't have to freeze his nuts off and run out to buy a new balaclava to wear under his mask in January.

On the plus side, however, the St. Louis Blues can rest easy during this upcoming season. With the presence of Conklin—the NHL's version of a lucky rabbit's foot—the Central Division's third-best team is now almost guaranteed, at the very least, to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup.

Conklin, 33, has been present—and lost—during three of the last four Stanley Cup Finals: 2006 with the Edmonton Oilers (sigh), 2008 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and, most recently, with the Detroit Red Wings.