Now that the NHL has signed a new network deal, talk is heating up about which city -- and field -- will be the next to host the Winter Classic. Well, we've got a hint, courtesy of the Philadelphia Daily News .
It appears that Philadelphia could be the next host and Citizens Bank Park, not Lincoln Financial Field, the stadium.
A league source familiar with the NHL's thinking regarding the 2012 Winter Classic told the Daily News yesterday that Citizens Bank Park is a "very real possibility" to host the event.When discussing Philly as a possible site for the annual event, many assumed the Linc, home of the Eagles, would be the target location. But when the recent NFL schedule was released, it showed the Eagles are hosting a game on New Year's Day. Apprently that wasn't an obstacle for the NHL in the first place.
Even though the 2011 Winter Classic at the Steelers' Heinz Field in Pittsburgh was considered a success, the NHL apparently prefers the coziness and layout of a ballpark as opposed to a football stadium.Another big question that's lingering over the Winter Classic is when it will be played. Each year so far, the game was set on New Year's Day, scheduled for the early afternoon every year, although inclimate weather made it a primetime start last season. New Year's seems like it's out because, again, of the NFL. With New Year's falling on a Sunday next year, the sports monster will likely force the NHL to move to another day (New Year's Day college bowl games, too). The speculation now is that it will choose to go with New Year's Eve and there is some discussion it could be at night.
Lastly, if the Flyers are indeed the targeted team, everybody will want to know who the opponent will be. The odds-on favorite will be the Rangers, who have been mentioned as a possible host at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field. At this point, the only team that is probably safe to rule out (besides the bad and warm-weather teams) is the Penguins, who have played in the game twice, including hosting last year.
-- Brian Stubits