There will be an NHL hockey game played on Friday that will be a Winter Classic Event in Foxboro, MA. This game has been hyped up a lot over the past couple of weeks, but the overall magnitude of this game has actually been underrated. The focus in Boston continues to be about the Patriots playoff seeding and Peyton Manning. While those stories are significant, the local media is putting an all-time historic event on the back burner. It’s time to put this game at the forefront!
The Winter Classic is always a major event, not only for the NHL, but for all of the sports world. It’s probably the only day of the year where the major focus in professional sports is on the NHL. Anytime the home team is playing in this event, it’s a major story for the city hosting the game. This was true back in 2010 when the Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park. That game generated buzz that was not seen for the Bruins in over a decade. That game was big. This game will be bigger.
The Winter Classic in 2016 will be the most unique regular season sporting event in the history of Boston sports. That may sound like an overstatement, but think about it for a moment. The Boston Bruins are playing their arch rival, the Montreal Canadiens, at the home of the four-time Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots. What game in the history of Boston sports has been more unique? There has certainly been bigger and more important games, but this one is very different. Does it get any better than this?!
The Winter Classic at Fenway Park in 2010 was great, but 2016 will be better for three reasons.
1. For starters, playing the game against the Canadiens adds a lot to the event. We don’t need to go into the history. Bruins – Canadiens is the second biggest Boston sports rivalry besides Red Sox – Yankees. These teams don’t like each other. In addition, the Canadiens have had the Bruins number in recent years having won seven head-to-head games in a row before the Bruins recently won the last contest in Montreal. Both teams are normally annual contenders and have met multiple times in key playoff series. That could be the case again this year as both teams are in contention for the playoffs. This game means a lot more than Bruins – Flyers did in 2010. The game itself is very significant because of the strength and history of this rivalry.
2. Gillette Stadium has a better fan experience than Fenway Park. Look. Fenway is great. It has a lot of history and playing the Winter Classic there was outstanding. Gillette Stadium just adds so much more to the experience. For starters, there are about double the amount of seats in the stadium. The more the merrier! There will be tailgating. Yes, tailgating for a Bruins – Canadiens game! The debates that are normally reserved for around mid-second period at TD Garden will now begin in the parking lot four hours before the game! Oh, and get ready. The Montreal fans will have a tremendous presence. Like it or not, the Habs jerseys will be everywhere. If you’re not into tailgating, there are plenty of venues at Patriots Place that will keep you warm before the game. Lastly, the Bruins and Patriots organizations have surely put together some pregame surprises that will be memorable for the fan base.
3. The Bruins are more relevant now than they were in 2010. Think back to how the Bruins were viewed before the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship. They were viewed as a mediocre team who had not won a championship in 38 years. Of the four Boston sports teams, they were clearly #4 in terms of fan interest. 2011 changed everything. Hockey is back in Boston! After a set back last year, the Bruins are just two points out of first place in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins matter.
Bruins vs. Canadiens on New Year’s Day at Gillette Stadium. Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, and Cam Neely present for the pre-game. All-time great rivalry. Tailgating. Outdoor hockey. 65,000 + people.
Is there a better way to start off the new year from a sports perspective?