Bruins Plan on Watching Winter Classic, But Really Hope to Play in One Again in Coming Years

Bruins Plan on Watching Winter Classic, But Really Hope to Play in One Again in Coming YearsWILMINGTON, Mass. — The Bruins returned to the ice at Ristuccia Arena for their first practice of the new year on Monday with a packed house taking advantage of the holiday to watch from the stands.

The Bruins are preparing for their next game Wednesday in New Jersey, but for many of the players their minds were on another game to be played later on Monday. Like most hockey fans, the Bruins were eager to see this year's edition of the Winter Classic being played between the Flyers and Rangers at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park.

"I'm going to watch the game today," Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said after practice, "and I hope they have fun out there."

The Bruins certainly had plenty of fun when they participated in the annual outdoor extravaganza two years ago, and they would welcome an opportunity to be in it again. 

"I hadn't really thought about it because I don't know how often they're going back to the same teams, but I guess they are because Philly's playing in it again," Thomas said. "I didn't really expect to get another chance to play in a Winter Classic. We'll see if we do."

The Bruins beat the Flyers 2-1 in overtime on New Year's Day 2010. Now two years later the Flyers are hosting the event. Pittsburgh has also played in two Winter Classics, visiting Buffalo for the inaugural game in 2008 and hosting Washington last year. That gives the Bruins some hope that they might get a chance to be a part of it again in the near future.

"It was a great experience," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "All the stuff we went through even before the game. The day before and the preparation and the day of and how excited everybody was. It was a real, real great experience for our hockey club. Obviously there are certain teams that have had two opportunities at it, Philadelphia is one of them right now and Pittsburgh had that opportunity as well, so maybe someday we'll get another crack at it."

The Bruins would certainly be a drawing card. They're an Original Six franchise with plenty of history, and now with last year's Cup win and this season's run to the top of the standings over the last couple months they have plenty of recent success as well.

Shawn Thornton mentioned hopes of playing the Rangers in Yankee Stadium at some point, though that won't be possible for at least the next few years with that venue unavailable because of a college football bowl game there. There has been talk of Detroit hosting next year's Winter Classic. An all-Original Six matchup to the Bruins would be music to Michigan native Thomas' ears. 

"That's Comerica Park, that would be different for me," Thomas said. "I've been there. I went to watch a lot of games in the old Tigers Stadium. The only year I lived in Detroit was 1984 when they won the World Series and I went to a couple games that year. It would be cooler it we could play it in Tigers Stadium, but Comerica Park would be pretty cool too if that happens."

For now though, the Bruins will have to be content with watching the Flyers and Rangers play outdoors on Monday afternoon. Most of the players planned to do just that, though at least one wasn't overly enthusiastic about making it appointment viewing.

"I'll probably have it on if I'm home," Thornton said. "I have some stuff to take care of before we go on the road again, but if I'm home I'll probably throw it on. There's nothing else on at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I haven't watched any of the other ones, but I else I'll tune in. We'll see what happens.

"It's not Tivo'd or anything," Thornton added. "But then again, I'm not the hugest hockey watcher away from the game. I bet 90 percent of the guys if not more are tuning in to the game. I'm just not that guy."

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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