The National Hockey League's now famous "Winter Classic" could be staged at Fenway Park this coming New Year's Day, although a decision hasn't been made by the league to play the annual outdoor game there yet, an NHL spokesman said on Thursday. "We're looking at Fenway," Frank Brown, the NHL's group vice president of public relations, said in a telephone conversation about the 97-year-old home of the Red Sox. "But we're looking at a variety of options." The Boston Herald reported on Thursday that the hometown Bruins will host the game at Fenway against a still unnamed opponent, probably the rival New York Rangers or Montreal Canadiens.
The newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, went on to say that Boston had edged New York and Philadelphia for the next outdoor game, which has become a staple of the NHL season. NHL representatives had apparently visited all three cities, plus two venues in the Boston area: Fenway and Gillette Stadium, home of the National Football League's New England Patriots. This year's New Year's game at Wrigley Field, won by the Detroit Red Wings, 6-4, over the host Chicago Black Hawks, drew 40,818 fans, who sat in wind-chill temperatures of 15 degrees. The game was a hit on NBC as a lead in to the Rose Bowl, with a 2.9 rating and a 6 share of the television audience. In 2008, the Sabres drew 71,000 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo for their 2-1, shootout loss to the Penguins. That game also had comparable TV ratings, making it the most watched NHL regular-season game in a decade. The Red Sox reportedly vied for the 2009 game, although the NHL also fleetingly considered having the Rangers play the New York Islanders as the last event in the old Yankee Stadium. Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has also been pushing for an outdoor game in Boston, the Herald said. "I'd love to have the game, period," he has said. "It would be a coup." With the NHL about to embark on its Stanley Cup playoffs, there's no timetable right now to determine where the 2010 Classic will be played, Brown said.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.