The Flyers have never been far from the rumors surrounding the next NHL Winter Classic, and once again, they have been linked to hosting it. This time, the report seems to be getting some additional traction, with the latest mention coming from TSN's Darren Dreger. We previously linked to Daily News beat Frank Seravalli's similar report from April 21, and before that, Pierre LeBrun's January 2 report that the Flyers were the frontrunners to host in 2012.
Although it's previously been reported that the NHL now prefers football stadiums to their baseball counterparts for the outdoor game, when the NFL's schedule was announced, the Eagles' regular season finale at Lincoln Financial Field on New Year's Day (should the NFL season be played as scheduled) presumably took the Linc off the list of possible venues. The Winter Classic will likely be played on a subsequent day, with no one wanting to pit their ratings magnet against an NFL Sunday, particularly one with playoff implications. However, Dreger has sources saying the Flyers are the leading candidate to host the Classic, with the New York Rangers the likely opponent. [UPDATE BELOW includes report of confirmation]
That would mark two appearances in the early years of the Winter Classic for the Flyers, with the first coming against the Bruins at Fenway on New Year's Day, 2010. If the Flyers were to host the next edition, they'd likely do so at Citizens Bank Park on January 2, a Monday.
An interesting twist on the Classic emerged last time around, with the the two teams involved being the subject of HBO's excellent "24/7" edition on the teams leading up to and including the Classic. It would obviously be interesting to see the Flyers in that light, and as Dreger points out, Rangers coach John Tortorella would play a prominent role if New York is to be the opponent. As if we needed more hate fuel for the Rangers or Torts…
Of course, we've heard these "sources say it's possible" rumors before, but we've yet to get anything resembling actual confirmation. [Until now. See below] A production of this size requires a lot of different people in a handful of organizations working in unison, including team officials in another sport. So far, no one local is talking in definitive terms, although this isn't the first or even second report linking the Flyers to hosting the next Winter Classic. Someone's putting it out there ahead of the news, now in both Philly and a prominent Canadian news source.
In any case, it's a nice distraction from the sloppy end to the Flyers' playoff "run" and the murkiness that has ensued since. What are your thoughts on the Flyers hosting a Classic at Citizens Bank Park, the Rangers as the opponent, and the matchup being featured on HBO's 24/7?
UPDATE: Wayne Fish of Calkins Media and PhillyBurbs.com tweets that an NHL source has confirmed the Flyers will host the 2012 Winter Classic. More as we hear it.