If you want to ring in the New Year with a hockey game be at Citizens Bank Park on Monday, January 2.
That’s right, Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Phillies. The NHL and the Phillies announced this week that the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic, pitting the Flyers and the Rangers, will be played at CBP at 1 p.m. It will be telecast on NBC.
The NHL says the game “celebrates the origin and traditions of hockey.” It’s hockey like it used to be played by Canada’s youth, outdoors on a pond. Only this pond will be in the middle of a baseball stadium with maybe 50,000 people watching.
This will be the second time the Flyers will be playing in the Winter Classic. In 2010, the Bruins hosted the Flyers at Fenway Park in Boston. Marco Sturm’s overtime goal gave the Bruins a 2-1 victory. The first game of the series featured the Bills hosting the Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo in 2008. In 2009 the Blackhawks and the the Red Wings took over Chicago’s Wrigley Field and in 2011 the Penguins and the Capitals played at Heinz Field. According to the NHL, the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh was the most-watched NHL regular season game in the U.S. in 36 years with an average of 4.5 million viewers.
During the press conference announcing the this season’s game, the principals sat on a stage constructed over the Phillies dugout. Ed Snider, founder and chairman of the Flyers, sat next to Mayor Michael Nutter and Phillies president Dave Montgomery. Flyers players stood behind them. Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather and Snider engaged in a bit of verbal one-upmanship concerning past Rangers-Flyers battles but, on the whole, everybody was just happy to get the word out about this unique event.
As a press release stated, the Flyers and the Rangers have long been fierce rivals along the lines of the Phillies and the Mets, and the Eagles and the Giants: “Division rivals since the 1974–75 season, the Rangers and Flyers become the closest geographic rivals to compete in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Their on-ice familiarity is a result of the fact that the Rangers are the Flyers’ all-time most-common opponent in the regular-season (261 games) and Stanley Cup playoffs series (10). While the teams last squared off in the playoffs in 1997, on the final day of the 2009-10
regular-season, the Flyers and Rangers played an historic ‘winner takes all’ game to determine the lone remaining playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Tied 1-1 at the end of overtime, the Flyers prevailed in a shootout, starting their march to the conference championship.”
Indeed, the game is being billed as “Broad Street vs. Broadway.”
In addition to the Jan. 2 game, the rink will also be used for a Flyers-Rangers Alumni game on Dec. 31 and an AHL Phantoms game Jan. 6. College and high school games also will take place.
“The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is arguably the biggest game played during the NHL’s regular season and it is a wonderful platform to feature our great sport to millions of worldwide viewers,” said Snider in the press release. Said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: “The Rangers-Flyers rivalry is one of our very best. It is only a short distance from Broadway to Broad Street, and over the years, these not-so-neighborly teams have provided an assortment of memorable games.”
Tickets sales have yet to be announced.
* It was also announced that the Flyers-Rangers rivalry will be the subject of HBO’s 24/7 which will debut Dec. 14. As it did with the Penguins and Capitals last year, the four-episode series “will again provide viewers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at both teams, along with in-depth interviews of players, coaches and front-office personnel as the teams compete during the NHL regular-season, including a Dec. 23 matchup between the teams at Madison Square Garden.”