NHL Winter Classic 2012: 5 Things to Look Forward to
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The Winter Classic has become a January tradition where hockey players go back to their roots, playing on an outdoor rink, in the cold.
Sure, Philadelphia isn't the coldest place in the world and some would say that this game could've been played in New York's Yankee Stadium, but that is all talk at this point. The fact is we have an outdoor game in Pennsylvania for the second year in a row.
Here are five reasons to get excited and look forward to a great Atlantic Division clash.
Play the Classic, Carry the Cup?
Zdeno Chara lifts the Stanley Cup over his head during the Bruins' Cup Parade. That Cup is over 7 feet in the air!
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There is a certain stigma that comes with playing in this game. Since 2008, the Winter Classic has been the showcase of a future Cup champion.
In 2010, The Hawks were Cup champions.
In 2010, the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers took to the ice at legendary Fenway Park. The Bruins won that game in OT and, as we all know, they just won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1972.
Of course, to carry on this hallowed stigma, either Pittsburgh or the Washington Capitals have to win the Cup in 2012, but that is speculation and analysis for another day.
For Flyers and Rangers fans, this slide is meant for you and your faith of a Stanley Cup championship returning to town.
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While it hasn't been announced yet, one would think with the history that these teams have, there should be a game between the best players in the history of the Flyers and the Rangers.
When Philadelphia was in the 2010 Winter Classic, they did not have a Legends Game, but as seen by last year's 5-5 draw between Pittsburgh and Washington's alumni—with no overtime or shootout—the league would be smart to try this again and get a decisive Legends Game in front of an expected capacity crowd.
For Philadelphia, legends such as Bobby Clarke, John LeClair, Eric Desjardins and the recently retired Mark Recchi could lace up their skates one more time.
Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter could do the same for the Rangers.
It's just a thought and is fair speculation.
Game Not on New Year's Day
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For the first time in the history of the Winter Classic, the game will not take place on New Year's Day.
This is due to the fact that January 1 is on a Sunday, thus conflicting with the NFL schedule—more importantly, the final week of the NFL season—and the NHL did not want to compete with that in a ratings war.
The game is scheduled for January 2.
On that note, this game was originally pegged for Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the Eagles play the Washington Redskins at home on January 1, so the game was relocated to the home of the MLB's Philadelphia Phillies, Citizen's Bank Park.
So, instead of waking up from your New Year's hangover to watch some outdoor hockey, you have to wait a day. Instead, enjoy the final day of the NFL season, and when January 2 rolls around, be excited that you have another marquee game to watch on TV and watch live if you plan on going to the game.
This should mark a great long weekend in sports to ring in 2012.
Former Flyer Mike Richards sporting the Flyers' 2010 Winter Classic jersey, just before game time.
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Another attraction of the Winter Classic is that the teams tend to wear special jerseys to commemorate the event.
The Flyers wore a replica of their 1973-74 jersey (pictured) when they played in the 2010 Winter Classic. We now know this jersey as their current away jersey, as most teams also tend to use the classic jersey on a regular basis after the game is played.
The jerseys for this game have yet to be unveiled, but some speculation has already started on what we will see on the players come January 2. What era will the Flyers revisit this time?
What will the Rangers jerseys look like? Do they revisit a jersey they wore during the late-30s, a time when they won Stanley Cups in 1933 and 1940?
The jerseys should be unveiled as we get closer to the event.
These two teams are fierce rivals in the Atlantic Division. They play twice in New York—on Nov. 26 and Dec. 23—before playing in the Winter Classic.
If that is any indication, expect fireworks on the ice.
There isn't much to be said at this point, as their history will say everything. Remember the Flyers squeaking into the playoffs in 2010, thanks to a win over the Rangers on the final day of the regular season?
The Flyers will be a whole new team than what the Rangers saw last season. No Mike Richards, no Jeff Carter and a solid No. 1 goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov. Of course, the Rangers could be retooled as well, but that has yet to be determined.
You probably won't see HBO 24/7 like we did last year, but of course, that is my opinion.
If I do get my wish, think about how much more work the FCC will have to do when the cameras enter the Rangers locker room—and I am just talking about Rangers head coach John Tortorella.
Tortorella is an extremely outspoken individual and I don't doubt he would throw in an F-bomb here and there. I mean, if you thought Tortorella calling out New York Post columnist Larry Brooks in various media environments was must-see TV, just you wait.
If you don't know what I am talking about, check out the video attached, it is just a taste of the Brooks/Tortorella saga. This was a news conference before Game 2 of the Washington-Rangers playoff series this past year.
Don't let the title of the slide fool you—this is about the rivalry between the Rangers and Flyers, not Tortorella and Brooks.
There you have it. Despite the fact that this game will take place on a Monday afternoon, those are five things in the course of the next few months that will cause you to skip work on January 2 to watch this game.