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Flyers-Bruins to hit the ice at Boston's Fenway Park

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BOSTON -- Standing along the warning track near the first-base dugout, Boston Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino pointed to the seats above the famous Green Monster and said those would probably be the best in the house for a hockey game.

Lucchino then turned his body slightly to the left and motioned over to what he called "Coca-Cola Corner," the area down Fenway Park's left-field line, and said those could be just as good.

The fans that get to sit in those prime seats on New Year's Day for the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be the envy of New England sports fans and hockey fans everywhere. More than likely it will be the only time they'll get to see an NHL game inside the country's oldest standing ballpark.

"When you have something special like the Winter Classic and a facility as special and iconic as Fenway Park, it just seemed like a good marriage," Lucchino told NHL.com.

One that finally was made official Wednesday as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, standing on a stage built atop the Red Sox dugout with an outline of where the ice rink will be laid out on the field behind him, officially announced the Bruins will host the Philadelphia Flyers inside Fenway Park on Jan. 1, 2010.

NBC again will televise the event in the United States. It will be the first event the network will carry under the new two-year extension it just agreed to with the League. CBC and RDS will provide live coverage of the event in Canada.

Lucchino, a Pittsburgh native who admitted he just got a Penguins' Stanley Cup championship T-shirt, said the Red Sox are proud and honored to be the hosts of what has turned into an iconic sporting event in such a short period of time.

"I think it will be one of those events that is going to be frequently cited as a key event in the long and diverse history of Fenway Park," Lucchino told NHL.com.

"You come here to watch sporting events, not to take part in them," Flyers goalie Brian Boucher, a native of nearby Woonsocket, R.I., told NHL.com. "It's wild."

Bruins Principal Charlie Jacobs told NHL.com that the organization began petitioning the NHL to host a Winter Classic at Fenway Park soon after the inaugural event took place Jan. 1, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo.

The Bruins' ownership first had to get the Red Sox ownership group to give permission for a game at Fenway. There was some initial skepticism.

"We asked them and I think there was some concern of how this field would hold up," Jacobs said. "The groundskeeper at Fenway Park is a tough customer."

Skepticism aside, the Red Sox agreed, and together with the Bruins formulated an application that was sent into the NHL.

"They weren't bashful," Bettman told NHL.com. "Obviously after we did the Buffalo game teams weren't bashful about making their interest known, and Charlie and Jeremy (Jacobs, Bruins Owner) were particularly not bashful about making it known.

"In the final analysis, while we were aware of the interest, after coming here and doing the site survey and talking to people in the mayor's office, we knew this made sense."

Lucchino said this winter is a particularly perfect time for Fenway Park to host the event, because while the stadium has been undergoing "massive renovations" in the baseball offseason, the winter of 2009-10, "is a particularly good one in terms of our ongoing Fenway construction schedule to take a hiatus."

Charlie Jacobs said he learned in March that Boston won the bid for the 2010 game.

"I was hoping, but there was some nervousness on my part that they wouldn't go back to a baseball park," he said. "I know with 70,000 at Ralph Wilson Stadium there is an opportunity for a lot more bandwidth there in terms of seats, but we're fortunate."

Outside of Bettman, the people beaming the most at Wednesday's press conference were Jeremy and Charlie Jacobs, along with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

"To generate some excitement and activity in the neighborhood in the winter is a good thing for the city," Lucchino said. "The mayor is extremely excited about it because he recognizes that this is another event that makes Boston a vital, active, with-it kind of town."
"I think it will be one of those events that is going to be frequently cited as a key event in the long and diverse history of Fenway Park." -- Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino

"Hockey is a global game and Boston is a global city, and I am very much looking forward to the Winter Classic," Menino said. "It will give us an opportunity to showcase our city to the world. I can't wait to be back here in January."

Neither can the NHL, which is hopeful that somehow the 2010 version of the Winter Classic bests the 2009 version, which drew a U.S. television of 5.6 million, making it the most-watched regular-season game in 34 years.

To do so, the NHL has plans in the works for several ancillary events around the actual game. The League will take over the stadium Dec. 10, which is the earliest it has rolled in equipment in the three-year history of the Winter Classic.

The early installation in Boston will provide area youth leagues and the general public an opportunity to skate on the ice prior to New Year's Day.

"We want to be able to offer our fans the best hockey entertainment experience inside and outside of Fenway to capture the special magic of this event," Bettman said.

Charlie Jacobs also said plans are in the works for comedian Dane Cook, a Boston native, to be at the TD Bank Garden for on New Year's Eve, as well as a bash at the House of Blues. There also are ongoing discussions regarding plans for the men's and women's hockey teams from Boston College and Boston University to play games against one another at Fenway on Jan. 8.

"I think we're going to bring something a little unique," Charlie Jacobs said. "New Year's Day itself is just going to be a big party, a lot of fun. We'll gain momentum right on up to the event."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com.