Final NBC Winter Classic Release

NEW YORK – Dec. 28, 2009 – Fenway Park will host the 2010 NHL Winter Classic between the host Boston Bruins and visiting Philadelphia Flyers on New Year’s Day with broadcast coverage presented by NBC Sports beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Bob Costas will host NBC’s coverage from Boston, joined by Mike Milbury (studio analyst), Mike “Doc” Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst), Pierre McGuire (inside-the-glass reporter), Darren Pang (inside-the glass-reporter), and The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore (weatherman). NBC’s NHL coverage is produced by Sam Flood, a Boston native and the former captain of the Williams College hockey team.

This year’s Winter Classic marks the third outdoor NHL game played in the United States. Last year’s event at Wrigley Field between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings was the most-viewed NHL regular season game in almost 34 years. An average of more than 4.4 million Americans watched the Red Wings defeat the Blackhawks, 6-4, from Wrigley, a 17-percent increase over the inaugural Winter Classic (3.75 million) and the biggest regular-season audience since Feb. 23, 1975 (5.4 million, Philadelphia-New York Rangers on NBC), according to Nielsen Media Research.

COSTAS ON THE BUZZ AROUND THE NHL WINTER CLASSIC: “The buzz for it is like nothing I’ve seen.”

MILBURY, A BOSTON NATIVE, ON THE BUZZ IN BOSTON: “The energy has been building since the announcement. It’s the toughest ticket to get that I have seen in all of my years in Boston, including Bruins playoffs, Red Sox playoffs, Patriots championships and Celtics championships. This is an event. It’s going to be a spectacular event and I’m proud to even be a little bit a part of it.”

COSTAS ON THE NHL WINTER CLASSIC AS AN EVENT: “This really is an event. It attracts a lot of people who don’t necessarily follow hockey closely throughout the course of the year.”

EMRICK ON HOW PAST PLAYERS FEEL ABOUT THE NHL WINTER CLASSIC: “I spoke with Ryan Miller, the goalie from Buffalo just this past fall almost two years after the first Winter Classic. He still has a big smile on his face when he talks about it. And his team didn’t win! Ryan Whitney and Colby Armstrong, now former Penguins, were walking in with the bagpipes and the fire salutes and one tapped the other on the shoulder and said ‘Lifetime memory right here. Take it in.’”

COSTAS ON THE HISTORY OF THE NHL WINTER CLASSIC: “The first one turned out even better than we thought it would. It snowed in Buffalo and was a tremendous atmosphere with that snow globe affect on camera; Sidney Crosby wins it with the winning goal in a shootout. And then we go to Wrigley field last year and the rivalry between the Blackhawks and the Red Wings. And now we take it to Fenway Park.”

FLOOD ON PRODUCING OUTDOORS: “We almost have twice as much equipment as we have for a regular-season NHL game. We have an airplane, which is not normal for a hockey game. For the first game, it was one of those ground breaking moments in TV — a replay from an airplane of a hockey game. It never happened before and can only be duplicated.”

MILBURY ON GROWING UP PLAYING OUTDOORS: “We lived on the ponds. The excitement was there because there was nobody to tell you where to go, where to line up. It was just mayhem. You played until you couldn’t play anymore and were frozen. You maybe brought an orange and broke it open and had that incredible smell of the fresh cold air.”

FLOOD ON THE WEATHER MAN: “It’s an event. It’s much more than a game. It’s the only hockey game in America or the world where you have a weather man working for you. Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel will be there. We’ve had a weather man at every game.”

MILBURY ON THE FREEDOM OF PLAYING OUTDOORS: “The players will be incredibly excited walking into that venue. The whole sense of playing outside is a sense of joy, pure freedom without any restrictions, no rules, no regulations. Just go beat around a puck and try to put it in between two old boots and have some fun.”

EMRICK ON THE PLAYERS: “You should’ve seen Brian Boucher this summer. He’s from Woonsocket, R.I. When he was at Fenway Park for the press conference, you could see in his eye he didn’t want to think anything ill of Ray Emory or anyone else. But he wants to play in this game for the Flyers. We were talking with Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, another New Englander who grew up spending a lot of summers at Fenway Park, and how he’s excited getting to coach a hockey game there. On skates and with this his stick raised to maximum heights, Zdeno Chara can get one third of the way up the Monster. Not bad.”

MILBURY ON FENWAY: “You walk into that place and it’s a museum.”

COSTAS ON FENWAY PARK’S HISTORY: “All the history. The idea that someone sat there and watched Babe Ruth pitch or Ted Williams bat or Lefty Grove or Jimmy Fox plus all the visiting players through the years and the specific games and events. Fisk and Dent and the Impossible Dream and Yaz. The only thing missing is that when the Red Sox won the World Series in ’04 and ’07, they clinched in St. Louis and then in Colorado so they never had the chance to put the finishing touches on it at Fenway Park.”

COSTAS’ MOST VIVID MEMORY OF FENWAY PARK: “One that stands out the most was Carl Yastrzemski hitting a home run. It wasn’t that important in terms of the context of the game, but it was his last season in the major leagues. It had to be his second- or third-to-last home run in the big leagues. There was something about him that was so timeless. I was doing the game with Tony Kubek and called that home run hit by a guy the first time you saw when you were only 10 or 11 years old. That was pretty cool.”

FLOOD ON CAMERA PLACEMENT: “The camera baskets are designed for a baseball game, not a hockey game, so we spent a lot of time figuring out what the right angles were and what the right places were to put all of our cameras to make the game shine. We also shoot this bigger and wider than a normal game because its about the place as much as the game.”

MILBURY ON THE BRUINS-FLYERS: “Ultimately this game should be a really good hockey game between two teams that should be among the elite of the conference.”

McGUIRE ON THE BRUINS-FLYERS: “This is going to be a ton of fun. It’s energy on both sides. It’s one team that is clearly desperate to get points in the standings, the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s another team that’s so proud, the Boston Bruins, and the internal leadership that they have with Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Mark Greci. There’s going to be villains on both sides. You’ve got Shawn Thorton with the Boston Bruins and you have Danny Carcillo on the Flyers. You are going to have Scott Hartnell and his wild hair flying all over the place. This game is going to be about energy.”

MILBURY ON THE RIVALRY BETWEEN BRUINS-FLYERS: “This rivalry goes back to the late 1960s, early 1970s and right through that decade in particular. It got its roots there. These were some of the nastiest battles that I’ve ever been involved with. Both teams, in their own way, have adapted to the new rules, but they listen to their fans and kept it constant. They want hard-nosed hockey. They want physical hockey. They want people to show up saying that we want to prove to you that we’re tough players and we’ve come to play every night.”

MCGUIRE ON THE PHYSICALITY OF BRUINS-FLYERS: “When you bring a player like Zdeno Chara into the mix, at 6-9 and a whole lot of nasty, and on the other team guys like Scotty Hartnell, Mike Richards and Danny Carcillo, who like to push back, that leads to a lot of physical altercations.”

EMRICK ON HIS HEALTH (HE MISSED LAST YEAR’S GAME WITH LARYNGITIS): “I started on the Vitamin C around Thanksgiving, as I was urged to do by a number of people. It’s worked out pretty well so far. It was quite disappointing to miss it last year.”

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About stevelepore
Steve Lepore is the Managing Editor of Puck the Media. His work has been featured in The Hockey News. Feel free to contact him at stevemlepore@gmail.com

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