2010 NHL Winter Classic an Instant Classic

It was January 1, 2010 in Boston – but to a Boston Bruins fan, it felt more like 1972.

Yawkey Way, and all the streets surrounding Boston’s Fenway Park, were painted in blotches of black and gold – with a smattering of orange from a good number of bold Flyer fans.

But no matter what colors you were wearing, there was an air of anticipation that hockey fans were about to see something special.

“Dirty Water” was a recurring theme for Clarence in 2009.  I saw it covered by Dave Matthews at Fenway in May last year, then by Billy Joel at Gillette Stadium and Steely Dan at the Wang Center on consecutive weekends in July.  With all due respect to the Standells, I was actually aching for some “Brass Bonanza” when I first saw the band:

Boston was a hockey town on this day, and you’ll find little argument to the contrary from any Boston sports fan.

After a bit of a logjam getting situated in the park:

I got into my seats in the right field roof deck for a pretty cool view of the on-field festivities.  Prep work on the main ice surface was overshadowed by the Pee-wee hockey game in right-center field.  Helicopters hovered overhead as Flyers fans around me debated whether or not Daniel Carcillo would get into the first fight in Winter Classic history (he did).

The biggest piece of the most recent 1972 Stanley Cup for the Bruins was there – the celestial Bobby Orr, skating slowly but effortlessly to center ice to take the ceremonial face-off with former Flyers nemesis Bobby Clarke.  The appearance of Bobby Orr on the ice at Fenway Park put the capacity crowd of 38,112 into a frenzy:

It was a three-ring circus on the field leading up to the game, featuring the Dropkick Murphys:

…and native son James Taylor, delivering his smoothest national anthem yet at Fenway Park:

Being at Fenway, I thought JT may play this song in honor of Dice-K:

…but I digress…

A B-2 stealth bomber did a flyover following Taylor’s anthem…and fireworks behind home plate lit up the gray skies of a winter day unlike any other before at Fenway Park:

Once the action got underway, both teams struggled to find their rhythms. Speculation about whether or not Fenway would provide the backdrop for the first fight in Winter Classic ended at 12:01 of the first period.  Usual suspects Shawn Thornton (Bruins) and Dan Carcillo (Flyers) dropped the gloves, with Carcillo gaining a decision:

At 4:42 of the second period, Tim Thomas lost his composure and left his crease to cross-check perennial pest Scott Hartnell.  Only problem was Flyers defenseman Danny Syvret put a shot on net at that moment, and the Flyers had a 1-0 lead.  The second period flowed into the third, and Flyers goalie Michael Leighton continued to stone the Bruins – it appeared that Thomas would be the goat of the 2010 Winter Classic.  As the clock hit five minutes left in the third, I started to get a sick feeling in my stomach that this long-awaited Winter Classic may come and go without anyone ever knowing what the Bruins crowd would sound like in Fenway after the Bruins scored a goal.

But with the Bruins on a power play late in the third, Mark Recchi tipped home a Derek Morris shot to tie the score at one, and the Fenway crowd exploded like an underwear bomb with 2:18 remaining in regulation.  In the OT period, Marco Sturm completed the Bruins’ Winter Classic comeback when he deflected home a Patrice Bergeron shot 1:57 into the overtime period.

The Bruins had an improbable 2-1 victory, and Bruins fans spilled out into the streets surrounding Fenway in a state of nirvana.

The work of Tim Thomas in OT cannot be overlooked – the Bruins could have easily lost this game several times if not for Thomas.  And after the game, Thomas found out he had been named the 2010 U.S. Olympic team.  So instead of being the scapegoat du jour, Tim Thomas had a day that most professional athletes can only dream of.

No matter how you slice it, the 2010 Winter Classic was an unqualified success.

Here’s a nice compilation of all the highlights/hoopla from the 2010 Winter Classic:

Check out the highlights from the game and all the surrounding events at NHL.com:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=14&id=55973

Sure, it’s been a long 37.5 years since the Bruins last drank from Lord Stanley’s chalice.  But the 2010 Winter Classic only made the Bruins fans more anxious for their team to slake that thirst once again.

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