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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 3:33 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Smith-Hart kick it off

The now famous version of "God Bless America" featuring Lauren Hart singing live and Kate Smith on the scoreboard from 1974 kicked off the alumni game here.

The fans, as expected, went bonkers when Smith was shown on the scoreboard singing the second stanza of the song. Hart stood patiently on the stage built over top home plate, waiting for her second part.

The opening faceoff was taken between Mark Messier and Bob Clarke. Clarke won the draw, and the alumni game started.

Remember, three 20-minute periods with running time and two 12-minute intermissions.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 3:24 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Players are introduced, Lindros gets huge ovation

They just showed a video montage with The Wallflowers "They Can Be Heroes" dubbed in. The fans here cheered when they saw all their favorite Flyers, and most loudly when they saw Eric Lindros.

A pair of drum cores are now banging away on the outfield stages built to resemble hockey sticks. One group is wearing Flyers jerseys while the other is in Rangers jerseys.

They've also brought out banners with the images of all the alumni playing in the game and more than two dozen people are holding them over the auxiliary rink. They then turned over the banners and revealed a sign that reads, "WE'RE BACK FOR YOU."

There are also roughly 20 flag bearers in front of each dugout.

Philadelphia native and ex-Rangers goalie Mike Richter was welcomed as an assistant coach with Mike Keenan. After Dan Blackburn was announced, Bernie Parent was welcomed by a huge ovation and the chants of "Bernie, Bernie, Bernie."

Brian Leetch came out of the visiting dugout after John Vanbiesbrouck, and he was summarily booed.

The rest of the introductions continued with Mark Howe, Chris Therrien, Bill Barber, Brad Marsh and Mark Recchi coming out before a rousing ovation for John Leclair.

There hasn't been much love for the Rangers here (the place, after all, is covered in orange), but Mark Messier got a nice welcome.

The Watson brothers, Joe and Jim, were introduced together. How sweet.

Bob Clarke got a loud ovation, but it seemed that the one Bernie Parent got had more volume to it.

Rick Tocchet, who has also become a TV celebrity in Philadelphia, as well as Brian Propp, Orest Kindrachuk, Reggie Leach, and Kjell Samuelsson.

Paul Broten was the last Ranger to be introduced, but there were still six more Flyers.

The loudest ovation was saved for the last second to last guy, Mr. Eric Lindros, No. 88. He got the longest and loudest welcome back to Philly of all his alumni teammates.

NHL.com blogger Jeremy Roenick had to wait in the dugout for Lindros' ovation to end before he could be called out to the ice.

Flyers owner, the only one they'v ever had, Ed Snider, dropped the ceremonial first puck between Clarke and Messier.

Time for the anthems and the game.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:49 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Here's the game format

We just got word that the alumni will play three 20-minute periods with running time. There will be two 12-minute intermissions.

The warmups just ended here and the teams have left the ice. The ice crew is back on the sheet now, shoveling up and down the ice in unison.

It's like watching synchronized skating with shovels. They will not be bringing out the Zamboni machines to clean the surface before the start of the game.

Bob Clarke happened to be the last Flyers alumni leaving the ice and he got a rousing ovation as he stepped into the home dugout.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:37 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Rangers, Flyers alumni hit the ice for warmups

The Rangers alumni hit the ice at 2:30 on the nose to a chorus of boos. For those tracking at home, John Vanbiesbrouck led the team onto the ice, so he'll be getting the start from coach Mike Keenan.

The Flyers came on right after and as you can imagine, the cheers were quite audible.

This place is filling up and it's basically a sea of orange. Then again, so is the ice as the Flyers have 29 players while the Rangers have 22.

The in-house camera found Bernie Parent and his face went on the scoreboard above the left field stands, causing another huge ovation here.

It's pretty amazing that this is all for an alumni game. Seriously, can half of these guys even skate anymore to do this? Parent, who is 66, isn't bending down to stop any shots.

Today's NHL goaltending coaches wouldn't know what to do with this guy. He'd be shipped back to the ECHL.

Then there are guys like Mark Recchi, who is wearing No. 8 for the Flyers. The guy won the Stanley Cup in June. Is it fair that he's playing?

Heck yeah it is. This ought to be pretty fun.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:12 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Live from the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

Winter Classic tale of the tape

Records

Rangers -- 23-9-4, 50 points (1st in Atlantic, 1st in Eastern Conference)

Flyers -- 22-10-4, 48 points (2nd in Atlantic, 4th in Eastern Conference)



Last 10

Rangers -- 7-3-0

Flyers -- 6-3-1



All-time record vs. opponent

Rangers: 112-107-37-7

Flyers: 114-105-37-7



Head coach

Rangers -- John Tortorella (378-315-37-64 career record; 117-82-22 with Rangers)

Flyers --
Peter Laviolette (341-241-25-55 career record; 97-57-21 with Flyers)



Most points

Rangers -- Marian Gaborik, 33

Flyers -- Claude Giroux, 45 (tied for 1st in NHL)



Most goals

Rangers -- Marian Gaborik, 22

Flyers -- Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, 17



Power play

Rangers -- 15.2 percent (21st in League)

Flyers -- 19.3 percent (8th in League)



Penalty kill

Rangers -- 86.0 percent (6th in League)

Flyers -- 82.4 percent (15th in League)



Best in what period

Rangers -- 2nd period (plus-18 goal differential, 44-26)

Flyers -- 1st period (plus-7 goal differential, 42-35)



Active players under 30

Rangers -- 17

Flyers -- 16



First-round draft picks

Rangers -- 9 (Martin Biron, Michael Del Zotto, Jeff Woywitka, Marian Gaborik, Marc Staal, Brian Boyle, Ryan McDonagh, Steve Eminger, Wojtek Wolski)

Flyers -- 11 (Braydon Cobun, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Scott Hartnell, Chris Pronger, James van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux, Andrei Mezsaros, Danny Briere, Jaromir Jagr, Jakub Voracek)



Rookies on active roster

Rangers -- 2 (Carl Hagelin, Stu Bickel)

Flyers -- 6 (Matt Read, Sean Couturier, Zac Rinaldo, Harry Zolnierczyk, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Brayden Schenn)



Winter Classic experience

Rangers -- Two players (Mike Rupp, Erik Christensen)

Flyers -- Nine players (Danny Briere, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Maxime Talbot, Kimmo Timonen, James van Riemsdyk, Matt Walker)
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:09 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Ballpark filling up for some old-time hockey

The kids have been playing shinny on the auxiliary rink since just before 1 p.m. Citizens Bank Park started filling up with fans about a half-hour later. The band playing outside in Spectator Plaza has been heard loud and clear inside the ballpark since noon. Right now they're belting out some Pearl Jam.

It's quite the scene here at the Phillies home park. After nearly two weeks of non-stop construction, the place is finally filling up for a hockey game.

The Molson Canadian 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game is set to begin in about an hour, and it is expected to be played in front of roughly 47,000 fans. Yes it's an exhibition and supposed to be fun, but try telling that to the fans here in Philly and the ones who came down from New York.

These are their old heroes battling their old enemies, and to them this is real.

Jeremy Roenick is doing his best to fuel the fire over Twitter. Roenick, whose Twitter name is @Jeremey_Roenick, tweeted, "Steph Matteau is in my sights.. Heads up today. Who else needs to get hit..." just after noon. He also mentioned how great it is that Eric Lindros is "lacin' them up today."

Lindros is here and ready to reunite with old Legion of Doom linemate John Leclair. The LCB line of Reggie Leach, Bob Clarke and Bill Barber will be together again.

Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, Glenn Anderson, Stephane Matteau, Nick Kypreos -- members of New York's '94 Cup-winning team -- are all back together again. Mike Keenan and Colin Campbell will be joined on the bench by the legendary Emile Francis.

Dan Craig and his crew are pulling the insulated tarps off the ice and the sun has almost faded completed into the distance. You know the Alumni Game is going to start soon because this is the live blog for it, and now we're live.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:14 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Taking a twirl

PHILADELPHIA -- The first skates touched the Citizens Bank Park ice shortly after 10 a.m. Friday morning. They were tied onto Dan Craig's feet.

Craig, rightfully so, was the first person to skate on the rink he and his crew have been creating here for nearly two weeks. He skated along the boards and kept his eyes down, looking at the ice around the edges.

Not long after Craig got on the ice, several members of the crew and some NHL staffers joined him and started taking some twirls. The sun is shining, but right now shadows are covering roughly a third of the ice.

HBO had its cameras rolling on the entire thing.

We'll have more later, including a video report from the ice.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 10:34 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Snider foundation provides Classic opportunity


PHILADELPHIA -- Dylan Candelore, Tyreese Walker and Kristopher Zapata now know what good grades, a strong work ethic, a positive attitude and excellent attendance can do for them.

The three members of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation were selected from among 2,500 candidates to come to Citizens Bank Park on Thursday and help NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig build the ice sheet for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

The kids joined Craig and his crew on the ice Thursday morning. Craig taught them a few things about the rink-building process and then handed them a hose so they could spray water to seal in the Winter Classic logo just inside the visitor's blue line.

"I think it is pretty cool," said Candelore, a 10-year-old goalie from Philadelphia. "They only have the Winter Classic once a year and we got to help make the ice for it. That's just cool."

Candelore, Walker and Zapata were chosen to be at the ballpark on Thursday because they have an exemplary record within the Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. They will also be among the 10 kids who will skate on the auxiliary rink prior to and in-between periods of the game between the Flyers and Rangers on Jan. 2.

A total of 30 kids will rotate on the auxiliary rink on Jan. 2, including 10 from the Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, 10 from the Flyers fan development program, five from the Rangers and five from Ice Hockey in Harlem.

"Everybody is going to be staring at us," Zapata, a 9-year-old center from Pennsauken, N.J., said when he was told that all eyes inside the stadium will be on them. "It's going to be cool. Everybody will be watching."

The Snider Youth Hockey Foundation will also be represented by 110 kids holding flags and taking part in the ceremony prior to the Molson Canadien 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game at 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 31. Even more kids will get a chance to skate on the main rink later in the afternoon on Dec. 31 during a private skate just for select members of the Foundation.

But the three that came on Thursday got the special treatment, including a tour of the ballpark after their visit with Craig.

"This was fun," said Walker, a 9-year-old defenseman from Philadelphia. "We got to spray the logo that's going to be on TV. That's awesome."

Of course, the actual Winter Classic game is also of great interest to three youngsters. They are, after all, huge Flyers fans.

Walker said his favorite player is Wayne Simmonds, while Candelore and Zapata both named Ilya Bryzgalov. Candelore likes Bryzgalov because, like him, he's a goalie. Zapata has gotten to like Bryzgalov by watching HBO's "24/7" series featuring the Flyers and Rangers.

"He's funny," Zapata said. "He talks about the universe and how you don't want to kill tigers in Russia."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 9:30 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Winter Classic rink closer to completion


PHILADELPHIA -- The ice is white and the blue lines are down. The crew is currently laying in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic logo that half-moons around the outside of the center-ice faceoff circle. The center ice faceoff dot is in and the outlines of the red line are as well. The goal lines are also being laid in.

A hockey rink is most definitely taking shape here at Citizens Bank Park.

NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig told NHL.com this morning that things are looking good and that he was even able to leave the ballpark by 8 p.m. Wednesday after arriving shortly after 6 a.m. He had members of his crew stay until midnight sealing in the white paint that they put on the ice sheet earlier in the evening.

The challenge is to have all the lines, logos, faceoff dots, circles, goal creases, trapezoids -- every possible marker -- frozen into the ice by 11 a.m. Thursday because that's about when the sun will start to cover the ice sheet.

Outside the boards, workers are busy laying long and wide white strips of foam on all the exposed grass areas. Without any natural snow at their disposal, the NHL uses the white foam to give the ballpark that wintery look. It's especially picturesque on television when NBC uses its airplane camera.

Outside the ballpark, work on Spectator Plaza continues. It is set to open at 9 a.m. on Dec. 31.

There is more of a buzz in the ballpark this morning. Several more NHL staff members arrived late last night and NHL Network will begin its coverage from Citizens Bank Park later today with NHL Live at 5 p.m.

We'll have more later, including an updates from both Dan Craig and Don Renzulli as well as some of the thoughts from Phillies President David Montgomery, who will be here to meet the media at 10:30 a.m.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 4:50 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Westerby's legacy lives in Classic logo

PHILADELPHIA -- Harry Westerby most likely was wearing his gray cardigan sweater with the elongated red-white-and-blue Rangers logo sewn onto the left side as a way of keeping warm.

Little did Westerby, the Rangers' trainer from their first three Stanley Cup championship teams (1928, 1933 and 1940), know that the logo he wore on the left side of that heavy cardigan would serve as the inspiration for the team's logo for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

In fact, the Rangers' logo for this season's Winter Classic is, according to NHL Executive V.P. of Marketing Brian Jennings, basically exactly the same as the one Westerby wore on his sweater.

"His wife probably sewed it on the sweater and he wore it out of necessity as a way of keeping warm," Jennings told NHL.com. "This was in the 1920s, and probably no one was thinking about merchandising."

A picture of Westerby wearing the sweater was included in a large batch of photos the Rangers sent to Reebok.

"And the Reebok guys are amazing," Jennings said. "You can page through three or four pages of nothing but shots, it might even be of a practice jersey, and you'd be like, 'Wow, I never realized they had that.' It can be anything, even stuff that you wouldn't think, to be the point of information. I think fans love that stuff."

Jennings added that the fact the logo is already part of Rangers history is important to the overall Winter Classic celebration and the marketing that goes on around it.

"Very few clubs say, 'Make me a fusion jersey, just go and create what you want, and basically disregard whatever our history was,'" Jennings said. "In most instances they want to be able to point back to something and frankly tell a story. The fact that Harry Westerby was the inspiration behind this is a fun story for those that are in the know. Reporters can tell the story about where this came about, and a lot of clubs feel strongly about that."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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