Bruins would welcome another Winter Classic

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Bruins would welcome another Winter Classic

WILMINGTON, Mass. It would be a Herculean chore to find a member of the Bruins willing to utter anything negative about their experience playing the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park two years ago.

The Bruins won itin overtime, the packed Fens went home joyful and jubilant after Marco Sturm won it with one of his handful of dramatic goals in Bs history and thenational hypeput Bostons love for hockey in the national spotlight 17 months before the Stanley Cup parade drew 1 million people strong in June.

So theres certainly enthusiasm about participating in another Winter Classic when Boston is concerned."It was a really neat and very cool experience," said Andrew Ference. "Playing in it every once in a while it would be awesome. The city gets super excited and I've really thought it's an event for the fans at the end of the day. We get excited to play in it, it looks awesome on TV and the coverage is really cool. But it's reallyabout putting on a show for the fans that love hockey."There is alsoprecedent withseveral US teams taking part in multiple classic appearances within the first handful ofyears inits existence. If its good enough for the Penguins and Flyers getting multiple chances to play in the NHLs January showpiece event, then why cant it also be true for the Black and Gold?

The massive TV ratings achieved by the Bruins both locally and nationally could be the kind of lure NBC is always looking for during the Winter Classic events. They're alsoa natural choice after captivating the hockey world on their runto the Cup last spring.

TheClassicwas a great experience. All of the stuff we went through with the preparation and the day before, and then the day of the game. It was a great experience for our entire hockey club, said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who also looked the picture of an old school hockey coach in his winter classic fedora. Obviously there are certain teams that have had two opportunities at it: Philadelphia has it this year and Pittsburgh played in their second classic opportunity as well. Maybe well get another crack at it?

Whispers circulating around next years Winter Classic have Detroit and Washington DC as the two most likely settings for the January event.In both instances the Bruins could make an excellent road opponent for the Wings or the Capitals. The Bs and Red Wings showed what kind of entertaining Original Six draw they could be while facing off in the Thanksgiving Showdown in November. It was the Caps and Bruins that were supposed to be the original combatants at the Fenway game three seasons ago before the Flyers horned in to face the B's.

The eventual game against the Flyers on Yawkey Way ended up serving asthe high water mark for B's goaltenderTim Thomas while battling through hip problems that ultimately forced him to give way to Tuukka Rask in the playoffs three seasons ago. So the 37-year-old gets a warm feeling in his heart when the conversation turns to the Classic.

For me personally the Winter Classic was the probably the highlight of that season, said Thomas, who had some loftier highlights last yearwhile winning the Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup in one fell swoop. That and going to the Olympics really saved that year for me. It was a lot of fun playing in the outdoor venue. As an American playing in a baseball stadium it possibly meant more to me than it would have meant to a Canadian or a Finnish guy. "As an American you have thosedual dreams growing up of not only being a hockey player but also a baseball player too. It was cool and being a history buff playing in a historical ballpark like Fenway Park was also great. I didnt expect to get another chance to play in a Winter Classic, but well see if we do.

Thomas saidhed gladly take part in another Winter Classic after assuming the Fenway game would be his only crack, and a chance to play in his home state of Michigan against the Wings would be the cherry on top of the Winter Classic sundae.

It's the kind of thing he never dreamed off while growing up in Flint, Michigan and then watching Tigers games at Tiger Stadium back during the 1984 season Sparky Anderson's crewcaptured the World Series. It would obviously be something a little extra special for the Flint, Michigan nativeto face the Wings.

Comerica Park would be different for me. I went and watched plenty of games at the old Tigers Stadium and the only year I lived in Detroit the Tigers won the World Series in 1984, said Thomas. It would be cooler if it had been in the old Tigers Stadium, but Comerica Park would be great too.

Of course everybody knows something special seems to happenwhen Thomas gets inspired by the hockey environment around him. Come to think of it that might just be another selling point for the Black and Gold in an outdoor Original Six showdown next season.

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.