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  • Historic Bruins-Habs rivalry set for a “Winter” Classic

    Daily News

    Historic Bruins-Habs rivalry set for a “Winter” Classic

    Tim Rosenthal July 30, 2015

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A hot summer afternoon nearly 24 hours after Tom Brady’s suspension was upheld by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t sound like an ideal time to host a press conference for next year’s Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium.

    A mock rink set up in a middle of a soccer field doesn’t sound like an ideal day to play hockey.

    On January 1, however, that will all change when the Bruins and the Canadiens write another chapter in their legendary rivalry at the home of the four-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

    “He promised me that it would be at least 60 degrees cooler on New Year’s Day,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said about Patriots’ Owner Bob Kraft’s weather observation several months from now.

    “I promise you the temperature will be a little bit different [from today],” Kraft added. “Maybe colder than you want it.”

    The Bruins-Habs rivalry will take center stage on New Year's Day at Gillette Stadium (photo credit: Tim Rosenthal, Bruins Daily)

    The Bruins-Habs rivalry will take center stage on New Year’s Day at Gillette Stadium (photo credit: Tim Rosenthal, Bruins Daily)

    The Bruins and Habs have faced off in 729 regular season meetings and 177 postseason matchups in the rivalry dating back to 1924. That regular season number will extend to 732 games before the two teams take their game outdoors for the first time in the rivalry’s’ history.

    Fenway Park, home of the 2010 Winter Classic vs. the Flyers, brought a lot of firsts in outdoor hockey. It’s safe to say that there may be a few other firsts in a few months.

    “No two teams have played each other more often in NHL history. They have had more regular season, postseason and Game 7 matchups than any other two teams,” said Kraft, who — during the press conference — also recalled scalping $100 for a Bruins-Habs game at the old Montreal Forum with his son, Jonathan, back in 1980.

    “Many of the games have been truly epic and memorable battles, highlighting what makes this sport so great. I’m very optimistic that is what we’ll have right here on this field on January 1.”

    Part of the Bruins-Habs past will be on display on New Year’s Eve when the two battle it out in an alumni game. Watching Ray Bourque, Guy Lafleur, Yvone Cournoyer, and perhaps the likes of Bobby Orr, Terry O’Reilly and countless others will bring a trip back to memory lane to many supporters of the Black and Gold and Les Habitants.

    After that, the current group of Bruins and Canadiens will take center stage for the main event.

    How the teams stand up to each other remains to be seen. The only thing that is for sure is another chapter will be written in this historic rivalry.

    “I hope that it is something that everyone will remember,” said defenseman and Michigan State alum Torey Krug, whose prior outdoor game experience includes an outdoor game between the Spartans and Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium in December, 2010. “Specifically, I hope the Bruins fans hope they get to remember it better than the Montreal Canadiens fans. Either way, we’re bringing two historic franchises here in a big game and a big setting in a beautiful stadium. So it’s going to be a fun one.”

    “It’s a once in a lifetime thing,” added Habs forward Brian Flynn, who led the University of Maine to an exciting win over their archrivals from New Hampshire in the 2012 version of Frozen Fenway. “You want to kind of savour [the moment] and remember those memories, but I think at the same time once the puck drops, you’re all about the game and you’re kind of focused on what you need to do.”

    Come New Year’s Day, 2016, the Bruins will look to be the second team to win two Winter Classic’s and the first team to win twice at home during the annual outdoor event.

    By now, though, many Bruins and Habs fans are “generally aware” that, “more probable than not”, this year’s Winter Classic will be something special.

    “It’s awesome; a chance for me to be able to play against Montreal in a Bruins sweater inside a huge stadium in front of a ton of people,” said Jimmy Hayes, who took the ice for Boston College against their archrivals from Boston University in the first Frozen Fenway in 2010. “It’s going to be a great moment.”

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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