New York City eyeing NHL Winter Classic
For the third straight year, the National Hockey League hit all the right notes at its annual outdoor extravaganza at one of baseball’s most revered shrines: Fenway Park. The Boston Bruins fought back to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime in front of nearly 40,000 fans.
“It was neat,” Boston defenseman Derek Morris said. “We were trying to yell and scream to each other, but you couldn’t hear yourself it was so loud. It was amazing. We wanted to win that game for the fans. It’s a fairy-tale ending. It was pretty special.”
While backyard and frozen pond hockey are ubiquitous parts of the Canadian winter landscape, the NHL borrowed the concept from U.S. college hockey. The 2001 “Cold War game” between arch rivals University of Michigan and Michigan State University set the world record for the largest crowd at an ice hockey game at 74,544.
In 2003, the NHL played its first regular season game outdoors in Edmonton. It featured the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens. The event was later re-branded “Winter Classic”.
“I’ve had several conversations with Commissioner (Gary) Bettman and have informed him that we’d love to have the game,” Jeff Wilpon, Chief Operating Officer for the New York Mets, told the New York Post.
“Gary has told me that he and his team will come out and do a site visit early in the year, so I know that we are going to be under consideration.”
TV network NBC, whose partnership in the endeavor has been a significant factor in the Classic’s success, is rumored to have cold feet over presenting a single-market game between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders to a national audience. The 2000 World Series, a subway ride battle between the Mets and the Yankees, was one of the lowest rated in baseball history, according to Fox sports.
“We’d like to have an experience like they had in Boston, where we’d have a few hockey events and open the rink to the community for a couple of weeks,” Wilpon said. “We think we’d put on a great show for the NHL, for hockey, and for the city. We have great interest in having the game at Citi Field.”
PHOTO: REUTERS/Brian Snyder Philadelphia Flyers center Blair Betts chase the puck in the second period of the NHL’s Winter Classic hockey game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts January 1, 2010.