One of the worst-kept secrets in the NHL came to reality today as it was announced that the Philadelphia Flyers will host the New York Rangers in the 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic from Citizens Bank Park on January 2, 2012.
Let's go to the video of Rangers GM Glen Sather putting the crosshairs squarely on his team with his bold predictions. Please excuse the advertisement - it's not my video work.
- Refer to the achievements of a team you coached nearly three decades ago as if it were yesterday. Re-open old wounds with Flyers fans.
- Bring up the hated Yankees and how they'll beat baseball's best team in 2011 in the Philadelphia Phillies.
- Mock the Flyers in telling their fans that the Rangers are not only going to win the Winter Classic, but that the Rangers will be the NHL Stanley Cup Champions at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season.
- Appease all by delivering a "just kidding" line.
I suppose that this was said in jest just to stoke the fires leading up to the game, and since HBO was most likely filming it, it should make for a great lead-in to the HBO 24/7 series on these two teams. Especially when Flyers owner Ed Snider quipped back, "When he said, 'we kicked the hell out of you in two Stanley Cups,' he wasn't talking about the Rangers. I remember kicking the hell out of the Rangers on the way to our Cups!"
The two teams are geographically the closest of any of the Winter Classic teams thus far, and have a long history between them, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. Other events will include an AHL game between the Adirondack Phantoms and the Hershey Bears on January 6, and an old-timers game on December 31. Public skating, a potential NCAA game, and other minor league hockey games could also be announced as the days leading up to the event tick away.
Personally, I think this game has the potential to be a very good matchup. However, the Rangers aren't favoured by many pundits to win their division, let alone challenge legitimately for the Stanley Cup. Perhaps Sather sees more in his team that the "experts", but hasn't he been singing the same tune since he was hired by the Rangers?
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!