After Tuesday morning's news that NBC was lobbying hard for the Philadelphia Flyers instead of the Washington Capitals in a Fenway Park Winter Classic, Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo reports that the Flyers are in fact the Boston Bruins' opponent on Jan. 1, 2010. From the Daily Times (Pa.):
The NHL was stubborn for a while... mostly because the Flyers were more interested in a Jan. 1 date with Pittsburgh than Boston. However, the NHL assured the Flyers that a future Flyers-Penguins outdoor game could still happen in a couple years.
The Flyers were satisfied and agreed to play. The NHL then confirmed for NBC that the Flyers would in fact play.
No official announcement has come from the league or the Flyers, but sources have confirmed to me that this is the case.
So there you have it: Another source nailing down a Flyers/Bruins Classic for 2010, and confirming the fanatical opposition by NBC to having arguably the League's biggest star in next season's Winter Classic. Joe Haggerty of WEEI spelled out the ratings story behind NBC's decision. Alexander Ovechkin will have to wait for Yankee Stadium or an outdoor date with the Pittsburgh Penguins (one imagines).
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That's not to say Philadelphia and Boston isn't a compelling matchup, because it is: Two great hockey towns within a reasonable distance of each other, and two franchises that carry decades of gravitas and immediate emotional connections for sports fans.
Once this is official, the NHL will have set the groundwork for the third straight combination of compelling competition and a spellbinding venue on New Year's Day.
H/T Philabright for the story.