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Boston & B's Buzzing about Winter Classic

by Dyan LeBourdais / Boston Bruins
Boston, MA -- These days, if you ask someone on the street what the buzz in Boston is all about they will surely tell you it’s all about the outdoor hockey game that will be held on the first day of 2010. And, sure enough, as Friday, January 1st approaches, the Bruins players are psyched to start off the New Year with the Winter Classic at Fenway Park versus the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Oh yeah, everybody’s excited,” said B’s defenseman Johnny Boychuk. “Everyone in Boston’s excited.

“All of the family members are coming down and it’s just going to be a day to remember.”

Many of the players, including veteran blueliner Dennis Wideman, haven’t been over to look at the ice at Fenway yet, but they are all anticipating a great event.

“I think it will be exciting just to get to play outside,” said Wideman. “I think that’s something we haven’t done in a long time, so I’m looking forward just to being outside and to be able to skate in the outdoor rink.”

Although the players are excited, with one more game to go before the big tilt, the main focus is staying focused and not getting lost in the all frenzy.

“It is it’s own huge event,” said B's goaltender Tim Thomas. “There are -- maybe I wouldn’t call them distractions -- but there are extra responsibilities that come with an event like that, but for me it’s been fine so far.”

Bruins Forward Mark Recchi agreed.

“I’m trying to keep it in the back of my mind right now,” he said on Saturday. “After these two games [Florida and Tampa Bay] it’s going to really keep focus on the 30th at home.

“There’s going to be a lot of distractions. I mean it’s a wonderful event and we’re all excited about it, but at the same time we’ve got…games before it, so we’ve got to be ready and we don’t want to go into that [game] feeling [like] we’re not playing well,” explained Recchi. “We've got to get going. We want to go into that game [on January first] playing well.”

Beyond the Bruins locker room, preparations have been underway for months and all those plans are finally coming to fruition.

Don Renzulli, the NHL’s Senior Vice President of Events, and Dan Craig, the NHL’s Facilities Operations Manager, are currently making their final touches on the field and the festivities.

“We have the building department and all the city officials coming [Wednesday] to do our walk through, so at this point all the big stuff is done,” said Renzulli on Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park. “We’re in the tweaking phase now from the game presentation standpoint and everything in the stadium and we’re going pretty well.

“Now just as you can see we’re cleaning up the field. The infield is all white. We have the snow machine all ready to go in case Mother Nature doesn’t play with us.

“But we’ll look over the course of the next few days to see what we have to do to make this a winter wonderland,” he said.

And Dan Craig said all signs are a go because they are prepared for any type of weather.

“Well two days ago when we had the heavy rain, the truck ran at 60 percent and we froze everything up,” said Craig. “So, we still haven’t found the borderline for this thing to say it’s enough, so it’s just a matter of the engineer and myself tweaking things and seeing what we come up with.”

Bruins forward Daniel Paille, who played in the 2008 Winter Classic for the Buffalo Sabres, talked about how the outdoor atmosphere.

“We worked hard, but we enjoyed ourselves at the same time,” said Paille of playing in the 2008 Classic. “It was a huge event for both teams and the NHL and to be a part of it is something special.”

“I know that the people that experienced it themselves had a great time. Having to be there in that atmosphere of that Winter Classic,” explained Paille.

“I think it was, obviously, a different feeling than being at home, so I think the people still enjoyed it watching on TV, but I'm sure they wished they could've gone as well.”

As for Friday, Paille said, “It’s just going to be a great time for everyone I think.”

The Bruins host the Atlanta Thrashers tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the TD Garden -- their last game before moving outdoors.
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