Somewhere up above, author and former Boston University professor Jack Falla
was smiling Wednesday. And on New Year’s Day, watching from hockey heaven,
Falla will have an even wider grin … maybe even tears of joy in his
eyes … as he watches the Bruins and Flyers battle it out in the 2010
Winter Classic at Fenway Park.
Falla wrote Home Ice: Reflections on Backyard Rinks and Frozen Ponds,
widely considered the bible for home-rink enthusiasts. In it, he
explained life and family through anecdotes that took place at his
Of course Fenway Park can’t provide the same intimacy that a
backyard rink does, but for the Bruins and Flyers, the friendly
confines on Yawkey Way will be just fine. In fact, they’ll be just
about as close as you can get to those days growing up playing pond
hockey or skating around on your backyard rink.
“I can’t wait until that day. I want to play now,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “I mean, how cool is this? I am ready now!
Thornton hasn’t played a game of shinny since he was a teenager, but
the magic of the moment still remains. He is looking forward to some
special moments in one of the most magical settings in all of sports.
“I mean, I’ve been to quite a few games here at Fenway, but it never
gets old,” Thornton said. “You look around every time you’re here and
there’s just so much history. To be part of something historic like
this will be amazing and you have to hand it to the NHL, the Bruins,
the city and everyone who made this happen. This is so great.”
Defenseman Aaron Ward felt just as honored and realizes this is something he may never experience again.
“It’s an honor to the play in the National Hockey League where
there’s only about 700 guys that get to do it and get that privilege,”
he said. “Then you add this where you’re one of about 40 guys that will
play hockey at Fenway Park. We’ll be the only guys that get to
experience that, and you never know when it’ll be back because it’s
moving around every year.”
Ward is also excited about the synergy this creates between the Red
Sox and Bruins and their fans as well as creating a buzz around his
team, which has definitely inserted itself back into the Boston sports
scene over the last two years.
“We’ve experienced a lot. We’ve been in some great buildings and
played in some big pressure games. But this is something that I don’t
think I could have foreseen as a hockey player. If you’re from Boston,
then you know the weight that this Red Sox team carries and the weight
that Fenway carries, and it helps us further inject excitement into
Bruins hockey and the NHL as a whole.”
Hall of Famer and current Bruins vice president Cam Neely agreed and admitted that he is quite jealous of the current Bruins players.
“To be able to play outside at Fenway Park, in a regular-season
game, you never thought it would happen,” said Neely. “It’s a great
experience to be a part of. Every player in the NHL wants to be part of
this. It’s quite a spectacle and great for the fans. It’s unbelievable
for Boston and our fan base.”
Neely said that while he won’t be playing, he will find a way to get
in a quick game of shinny with some coaches or fellow Bruins alumni.
“We’ll have some ice time. Or, rather, I’ll make sure I get some,”
he joked. “I may be getting old, but I’m not passing that up.”
The Flyers are just as excited as the Bruins and one Flyer in particular was already in awe of the environment. Flyers goalie Brian Boucher,
a native of Woonsocket, R.I., grew up a die-hard Red Sox fan. He was
simply in disbelief that he was actually standing on the field
Wednesday, let alone that he was going to play on it in January.
“I can’t believe I’m sitting here with you on the field at Fenway
Park. Sorry, I’m just a little awe-struck,” Boucher said. “This is just
so cool and I am going to be able to skate on Fenway Park. Are you
kidding me, man? This is just too cool!”
Boucher is a Flyer now but he still bleeds Red Sox red. And as he
pointed out, being a part of the 2010 Winter Classic will be as close
to his dream of playing baseball in Fenway as he will ever get.
“I’ll settle for that, no problem,” he said. “This is going to be awesome.”
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