Michael Ryder No Stranger to Outdoor Hockey

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December 9, 2009

Michael Ryder No Stranger to Outdoor Hockey The hype is building. In just 23 days, the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers will take the ice in historic Fenway Park for the 2010 Winter Classic on New Year's Day.

This is the third time the NHL has held this event. The first two took place in Rich Stadium in Buffalo (2008) and Wrigley Field last season. Prior to those games, there was only one other NHL regular-season game held outdoors. On Nov. 22, 2003, the NHL held the Heritage Classic between the host Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

The home of the Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) was packed with more than 57,000 fans, who braved the frigid weather of minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit. That day, current Bruins forwards Michael Ryder and Steve Begin were on the ice playing for the Montreal Canadiens, and Bruins head coach Claude Julien was coaching the Habs.

"It was cold, that's for sure," Ryder recalled, "but we were OK because we had heaters on the bench. We actually had to turn them down a few times because we were getting hot, but the goalies had it rough, because they weren't able to come over to the bench that much. I don't really remember what they did. Probably long underwear, I guess."

Actually, Ryder's teammate and the Habs' goaltender at the time, Jose Theodore, donned a toque over his helmet to keep his head warm, starting an instant fad in Canada and across the hockey world.

"I remember he started that trend after that, and everyone was wearing those toques," Ryder said. "That was pretty cool, and I think I still have one."

Ryder said he is excited to don the Bruins' Winter Classic hats on New Year's Day and even more excited to take part in another outdoor game.

"That will be cool, eh? They gave us those earlier in the season, so yeah, I'll be wearing mine," Ryder said. "But I'm just excited to be playing in an event like this again. It's a really surreal atmosphere, and it brings you back to when you're a kid."

The fact that Ryder will be playing in the intimate confines of Fenway Park will make this second outdoor game for him even more surreal and memorable.

"I haven't been in there since I went to a game when I was young, so this will be cool just to be there," Ryder said. "But playing in that park with the fans right on top of you and just the whole history of it, that's going to be awesome. I'm really looking forward to it, and I know a lot of the guys are too."

Ryder is hoping he and the Bruins can have the same success the Canadiens had in Edmonton, when they beat the Oilers 4-3. In that game, he chipped in with an assist.

"That will be the hard part really, just focusing on the game," he pointed out. "There's so much going on around the game, but you just need to realize it counts."

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NESN.com's James Murphy will answering one Winter Classic question every day in December.

Thursday, Dec. 10: How did the Winter Classic at Fenway Park come to be?

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