Welcome to the Rap Around, where we take a look at headlines around the league.
The important details of the 2010 Winter Classic were officially revealed by the NHL today: the Boston Bruins will host the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park in the annual New Year's Day game.
According to a report by the Trentonian last month, the league had originally envisioned the Capitals as Boston's opponent, but those plans were overruled by NBC, who insisted on the Flyers in order to draw better ratings.
Arthur, what do you think of this matchup and venue, and was NBC right to overrule the NHL, here?
The Broad Street Bullies and the Big Bad Bruins. And at Fenway, no less.
Let me set the scene. The snow is falling on Yawkey Way. The crowd is roaring. And in shallow center field, Milan Lucic is pummeling Daniel Carcillo.
Now, I've enjoyed the last two Winter Classics. And I understand that pond hockey is supposed to be nothing but offense (like last year's game) and skating (like the year before that). But when I watched those games, I felt something was missing. And I kept asking, if you're going to play in an NHL rink, why not play an NHL game?
I want to see some physical intimidation out there. Philly offers that-- though this Bruins team isn't exactly going to back down. Yes, they're not the Big Bads and the Bullies any more, but the crests are the same. And if last year's Classic harkened back to the Original Six matchups of the 30s, then this year takes you back to the late 60s, when these were the most violent teams in hockey.
I can't say enough about the venue. I've been to Boston and Fenway in the winter; the city and park are breathtaking under a layer of snow. This was the only way the NHL could step up their game after Wrigley. And I have to applaud them for rewarding another Original Six franchise that's gotten its groove back. When hockey flourishes in the major markets, it flourishes everywhere.
I also have to applaud NBC. They did the right thing for both parties, here. The Winter Classic has to establish high ratings (and thus, high advertising rates) for a few years before Bettman can start using the game as a highlight reel for his superstars. It beat out college football this year, but one bad matchup could scare the advertisers away next year.
Let me start by saying that Pronger will rub someone's face into fresh snow. That thought excites me a little. Boston and Philadelphia have the forwards to keep fast skating and impressive offense a staple of the outdoor classic, but now Philly's nasty streak means chippy and, dare I say, playoff caliber hockey.
I'm not from Boston, I don't root for any team from Boston and I think Red Sox fans are a special kind of annoying. Having said that, Fenway is still one of the largest gems in the crown of sporting venues, and I can't wait to see what it looks like with a hockey rink in the middle of it.
Finally, I don't think the NHL should have folded on this one. Despite the fact that Boston and Philadelphia will be an awesome game, I think the league needs a show of force. The NHL is picking up popularity and isn't as bereft of muscle in television negotiations as it was a few years ago. Bettman needs to put on his big kid pants and stop letting NBC have its way. If he doesn't, rumors might start, and he may have to call David Stern for advice on what to do when fans think NBC crowned one of your champions.