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Bettman: Practice makes perfect

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"This has become a hallmark event for us. It is a cornerstone of the strategy we began over three years ago to build scale and connect with our fans in ways we haven't done before, using all of the platforms available to us."
-- Commissioner Gary Bettman

BOSTON  -- The NHL learned plenty the previous two seasons when it successfully pulled off back-to-back Winter Classic success stories with games in Buffalo and Chicago.

According to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, those lessons learned certainly paid dividends to producing an even greater product for the hockey world at famed Fenway Park on New Year's Day this time around.

"Based on what we are going to see (Friday), we learned a lot over those two Winter Classics and it will reflect in the quality of the ice and game presentation and everything we have done building up to it," Bettman said. "This has become a hallmark event for us. It is a cornerstone of the strategy we began over three years ago to build scale and connect with our fans in ways we haven't done before, using all of the platforms available to us."

Bettman also confirmed that the League is currently in the process of choosing the venue for the 2011 Classic.

"Obviously, we have to be in a place where we think the weather will be okay," Bettman said. "We actually have people studying the last four years of weather in a variety of markets and coming up with a statistical model as to what the likelihood is of a temperature being at a certain level and precipitation being rain or snow."

Bettman was glad to see the positive player reaction during Thursday's practice session, during which a light snowfall added to the festive mood. Despite the fact the snow forced players to pay attention to detail while stick-handling across a half-inch of the white stuff, they enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"The player reaction (on Thursday) was great," Bettman said. "We didn't choreograph the snow fall as they were taking the ice, that just happened. But that's part of what makes this event so much fun.

"In terms of the economic impact in a local community, it's been great for the Bruins in terms of interest and fan support during the season," he continued. "I think I heard (on Thursday) that the head of the Chamber of Commerce in Boston pegged the economic impact somewhere around $36 million. This is a big event and we are proud that it's developed this quickly into this big a deal."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com