The temperature is supposed to touch 90 in Boston today, and the most exciting thing happening with the Bruins is an arbitration hearing in a Toronto court room to determine how rich Blake Wheeler is going to be after his disappointing sophomore NHL season.
In Pittsburgh, the NHL cognoscenti converged to officially announce the previously released news of the 2011 Winter Classic pitting Washington and the Penguins at Heinz Field next season on New Year’s Day.
To me, there are a few things wrong with this decision. First, the Penguins are opening a new arena and to me it’s not right to take one of the home dates of this inaugural season in that building and make it an outdoor event. Second, the Sidney Crosby overkill tends to really cause more backlash than good for the league. But, of course, the NHL is just like every pro sport league and all its sees is the cash cow this game will be and not the long-term implications of throwing the league’s top two players into an event like this right now. Instead of showcasing some lesser-known teams and would-be stars, the league is just going to milk the established hierarchy.
Anyway, I digress. The 2011 Winter Classic announcement, however, is a reminder of one of the brighter times in recent Bruins history. One year ago, the Bruins were oozing hope despite a second-round playoff loss and were thrilled to be named host of the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Who can forget Gary Bettman’s riveting speech at Fenway:
Some 5 1/2 months later, most of which the Bruins spent mired in mediocrity, the team gave its fan base its biggest thrill of the regular season. Marco Sturm’s overtime goal — his biggest moment of the season — put down the Flyers and sent the Bruins on their way to a four-month battle for a playoff spot.
This season, the Bruins will have to generate their own mid-season excitement without the help of a major NHL-held event in the Hub. Whether Boston will be able to turn its offseason actions — all the re-signings plus the drafting of Tyler Seguin and trade for Nathan Horton — into on-ice success. So for now, take a break and remember the good ole’ days of the 2010 Winter Classic.