While we’re all focused on the Stanley Cup playoffs, rumblings about what’s going to happen next season are already firing up.
As always, the marquee midseason event is the Winter Classic and after the huge success that it’s been the last four years in Buffalo, Chicago, Boston, and Pittsburgh teams and cities are always hopeful of landing the annual event.
CSN Philly is reporting that the 2012 Winter Classic will be headed to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and will feature the Philadelphia Flyers taking on the New York Rangers on January 2. The January 2 date is, of course, deviating from the usual January 1 date for the Winter Classic and there’s a good reason why next year’s game will have a different date.
As CSNPhilly.com reported last month, because the Eagles and Redskins are playing on Jan. 1 at Lincoln Financial Field (assuming an NFL season and end of the lockout), the league was considering moving the game back a day because, sources said, the NHL did not want to go head to head with the NFL on New Year’s Day. Citizens Bank Park was the only option if the game were to be held in Philadelphia.
Avoiding a potential NFL weekend is a wise idea for the NHL and while some might criticize the league for getting off of the traditional New Year’s Day date, the event is meant to be a TV sensation to showcase the game. Going up against the NFL wouldn’t get the game the kind of showcase they’d be looking for.
Of course, there’s the possibility that the NFL will be locked out as well. It’s not believed that the date of the game would have the date shifted if the NFL is out of commission for the year.
For the Flyers, it would mark their second appearance in the Winter Classic after appearing in the 2010 Winter Classic in Boston against the Bruins. For the Rangers it would be their first appearance in the New Year’s Day event and while New York would love to host the event, there’s not a facility that appeals to everyone to host it in New York City. Should Yankee Stadium ever become available in the future that would be the optimal venue. For now, the Pinstripe Bowl takes up all the time in the Bronx needed to get the stadium ready for the Winter Classic.
No announcement has been made so this is just speculation for now, but if you’re thinking about where you might want to spend New Year’s for hockey purposes, it might be time to start looking into Philadelphia.