Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk went out to the Fenway Park rink before the team's practice on Thursday to take some pictures and take in the scenery. It was a typical New England winter day — cloudy and cold.
But when he returned with his team an hour later for the Winter Classic practice, Boychuk and his teammates were in a winter wonderland.
"It was crazy because I went out before and it's clear and then all of sudden we're walking out into that snow," a wide-eyed Boychuk said.
Boychuk questioned whether the NHL was making another commercial like the one featuring some of his teammates and Flyers players.
"For a second I really thought it was fake," Boychuk said with a laugh. "I thought maybe they had those snowflake machines going like in the ad the NHL has for the game. It was like a fairytale."
Alas, this was real, though it seemed surreal, as the Bruins practiced in a setting that was fitting to the theme of the Winter Classic. The scene brought many players back to their roots.
"Man, I haven't experienced something like this since I was a kid," said Marc Savard. "That was really surreal and just so much fun. I mean the snow, outdoors, Fenway Park — what more can you ask for?"
Actually, a similar practice would have been useful for the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins prior to the 2008 Winter Classic, a game in the snow that ended in a 3-2 shootout win for the Penguins.
"We definitely could've used a day like this then," former Sabres and current Bruins forward Daniel Paille said. "We didn't have that adjustment period like this. [Thursday] was great because we can take it all in and not be so awestruck [on Friday]. You can also get a feel for how it is in the snow and how the game may be if it snows [on Friday]."
It wasn't all business for the Bruins, as the day was also about fun for the players. Family and friends of the B's got to come out and skate as well. Even head coach Claude Julien was seen playing goalie as his daughter and wife shot pucks on him, and everyone was enjoying the moment for once and put the idea of a job aside.
"You know, I've been through a lot, obviously — winning Stanley Cups, All-Star games, Olympics, what have you, but this is right there with them all," said 41-year-old veteran Mark Recchi. "This is so cool and to see the kids out there, everyone soaking it all in. I mean, this is what it's all about."
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