Boston – If you close your eyes and ignore the time, the precise thwacks of sticks connecting cleanly with pucks here in the revered bleachers sound a lot like batting practice.
However, it’s not Ted Williams or Bill Mazeroski working away in this baseball cathedral’s snappy atmosphere beneath the Green Monster’s protracted shadow.
Along the baseline, where the Red Sox are sprinting from second to third, Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron are making steps up the centre of the ice.
Evgeni Malkin and Brad Marchand can be seen leaving the dugouts with eye black on their cheekbones.
Cynics would assert that the annual New Year’s outdoor matinee has become stale and that the National Hockey League Winter Classic has lost its appeal. Hey, didn’t they do one at Fenway Park already?
After the Boston Bruins family skate on Sunday, Bergeron remarked, “It’s my fifth (outdoor) game, and I’m still looking forward to tomorrow.”
The Winter Classic feels as meaningful as ever to the players, coaches, and spectators filling the stands for Monday’s game between the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins.
A spectacle, indeed. It’s an act. It’s a made-for-TV ratings push that has been moved to January 2 in 2023 in order to avoid conflict with NFL Sunday, which dominates the channel.
But it’s also a great time in a great place.
And those involved do take it seriously.
Consider the head coach of the Penguins, Mike Sullivan, who, thanks to his late father George, a shortstop and Red Sox fanatic who raised him in Marshfield, Massachusetts.
“I doubt there was a stronger Red Sox supporter than him. Perhaps one of my uncles,” adds Sullivan. “But we had the opportunity of seeing one Red Sox game in Fenway on average as kids, and we basically grew up idolising the team. Those incidents seem to have happened yesterday in my memory. Therefore, even today, when I take my kids there, I still get goosebumps when I enter Fenway Park.
ice hockey. afternoons that are warm at the ballpark. The hard-working bench manager is not ashamed to get a little nostalgic because Sullivan feels at home here.
It’s intriguing because, in my opinion, sports have a special capacity to unite people and families as they support their different teams. You are your teams’ life and death,” says Sullivan.
“Baseball and hockey are two of my family’s passions, so this is sort of the pinnacle of that for me. Therefore, it is unique to be able to witness this at Fenway Park.
Consider the Penguins who played some whiffle ball Sunday to warm up before practise or the Bruins who donned scally caps.
Consider the dynamic star of the Boston Bruins, David Pastrnak, who collaborated with Bauer to create a special stick and pair of skates for the occasion that were imprinted with the David Ortiz insignia.
Bring me some good fortune, Pastrnak begs. “I’m hoping I can hit a few home runs into the stands.”
Consider Sidney Crosby, who 15 years ago at the first Winter Classic in Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo scored the game-winning goal in a snow globe shootout.
After taking off his retro P sweater, Crosby explains, “I didn’t know whether I’d ever play in another one when we played the first one in 2008.” Everyone is undoubtedly very happy to see how they have developed and to have a place like this.
“You wish to play in the NHL. You may not automatically assume that this is a part of it.
Most definitely not when a young Crosby, who was perhaps nine or ten years old at the time, made the 10-and-a-half-hour family trek from Cole Harbour to this stadium to watch his first-ever sporting event. The sentiment is evident even though his memory of the specifics of the game is vague.
“Red Sox versus Giants. At the time, Barry Bonds was a member of the Giants. The manager was Dusty Baker. And Mo Vaughn hit a walk-off home run. Crosby, an Expos fan since he was a young boy, recalls the score as being 4-3.
But back home, Boston was always a huge one. Many people flocked to them. Nova Scotia is not too far away. So, coming here at a young age was a very great experience.
The puck will drop at 2:00 PM ET on Sportsnet and SN NOW. The prediction calls for a 9°C temperature. The memories ought to last, and the sky ought to be sunny.
These are distinctive in their own right. I believe it is what makes them all so beautiful, says Sullivan. For me, this one might be the best of them all.
“It would be difficult for a true hockey fan to not be enthused about an occasion like this. We have the advantage of seeing things up up and personal because we are coaches. And I do not take even a single second for granted.