"I got to play a softball game," said Boston Bruins Foundation Director of Development, Bob Sweeney, when asked if he ever thought he'd get to play at Fenway during Thursday's press conference announcing the Hockey East double-header to be held at Fenway Park just one week following the NHL's Winter Classic. "I didn't do too well."
"I just want to welcome everyone here from all the schools," he continued. "This is a great opportunity for everybody."
"On July 15th, Gary Bettman announced that the Winter Classic was coming to Boston and the level of excitement is off the charts."
That excitement might just have quadrupled, what with students and alumni from Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern and the University of New Hampshire getting involved.
On January 8th Northeastern will take on UNH in women's ice hockey followed by a Commonwealth Avenue grudge match between BC and BU.
"Everybody involved with the college hockey game owes a great deal of gratitude to the NHL and the Bruins for having the Winter Classic, because I think without the winter classic the [college games don't] happen," said Sweeney via phone after the Fenway presser. "I'm a former Bruins player and now I work for the Bruins full time [and] I went to BC, played against BU numerous times.
"To be able to represent the Bruins there, and having our involvement make this game between four great hockey rivals is nice"
Sweeney is happy that the scope of the Winter Classic has been expanded.
"The Winter Classic is the toughest ticket, we all know, because so many people are involved," he said. "And if you are not a Bruins season ticket holder, it's pretty hard to get a ticket to that event.
"I think the unique part about [the college games at Fenway] is that a lot of people around the area will be able to get a ticket to that game...which is great."
As a former Bruin and Eagle, is there any jealousy there?
"I wish that when I was a kid playing for BC that we had this opportunity," he said with a laugh. "It's great for Boston University and Boston College to continue their rivalry and I'm sure it'll be a great game."
And the timing of all of the Fenway events is just perfect. Not only does Boston boast the last two NCAA hockey champions in Boston College (2008) and Boston University (2009), New England's hockey renaissance is centralized in the TD Garden.
"For the Bruins to be having this Winter Classic this year is fitting because they are a team on the rise," he said. "Being a former Bruin and playing on some great teams in the late 80's and early 90's it's great to see the Bruins prevalent again in the Boston sports scene."
Sweeney marvels at the club's ticket sales and the B's growing importance on New England's athletic radar.
"As a player, you want to come to your home building and have that home ice advantage each and every game," said Sweeney. "And I think the Bruins deserve that and deserve a lot of credit from top-to-bottom.
"From the Jacobs Family to Peter Chiarelli to Claude Julien and, of course, the players."
The double-header is the proverbial icing on the Winter Classic cake. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins Foundation will be trying to help distribute that cake to as many children as possible.
"The exact role of The Foundation is to be determined, but we will get some ice time at Fenway Park prior to the Winter Classic, which will be a unique opportunity," said Sweeney. “And I can tell you that some tickets will be allocated for youth hockey, which is a must I think and is a great testimony to the NHL for thinking of kids.
"They're your lifeline for the future and are your next generation of fans and you want to make sure that some kids get to enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity."
For now, however, Sweeney -- certainly a New England hockey fan first and foremost -- it's hard not to bask in the glow just a bit.
"As one of the coaches alluded to [on Thursday], if you ever told me that we'd be playing a hockey game at Fenway Park, I'd think you're nuts," said Sweeney. "I think the NHL has created their own identity on New Year's Day with the Winter Classic and to be able to hold it at Fenway Park in Boston and have the Bruins as the host team is a dream come true.
"As a kid, thinking back, if you ever had that opportunity it would be incredible." Morning reading...
They can’t wait to skate at Fenway (B. Collins, The Boston Globe
Bradley’s Business: Keep Building the Bruins (J. Haggerty, WEEI.com
2010 Winter Olympics: Goaltending a major focus for U.S. (M. Kalman, TheBruinsBlog.net
BC-BU Hockey Battle headed to Fenway (J. Murphy, NESN.com