The Canadiens-Bruins rivalry will surely spice the 2016 Winter Classic alumni game at Gillette Field in Foxborough, Mass.
No way around it. Wednesday’s Winter Classic press conference at Gillette Field in Foxborough, Mass., was the epitome of a no-news event. Outside of revealing the logos that will be worn by the Bruins and the Canadiens for the Jan. 1 game—not the jerseys, just the logos—it was basically a parade of sweaty businessman congratulating each other on their partnerships and past successes.
Sorry if you missed out.
What we did learn is that Boston will use its original logo, worn from 1924 to ’26, while Montreal will sport a style it last wore from ’22 to ’24. Tough to say much about the emblems without the context of the jerseys, but from an historical perspective both are good choices. There’s at least a chance of both squads coming up with something really special to wear on New Year’s Day.
The most interesting revelation, though? As part of the festivities, the teams will stage an alumni game on Dec. 31. Given the star power the two organizations can call on, and considering all the animosity that has built up over the course of their more than 900 regular season and playoff meetings, the exhibition should prove to be a bit more contentious than the average old-timers get-together.
So, who do we want to see on the ice?
Sadly, it's a long shot that anyone from the Bruins’ 1970 or ’72 Stanley Cup champions will be available for a twirl. Bobby Orr was the youngest regular on that ’70 team and he’ll be nearly 68 when the puck drops on New Year’s Eve. You can be sure he’ll be involved somehow, even if only in a ceremonial role. Same for Boston favorites Johnny Bucyk, Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers and Milt Schmidt, the oldest living Bruins player. It would also be nice to see Normand Leveille, the promising forward whose career was tragically cut short by a brain injury in 1982.
The toughest spot to fill will be between the pipes, but the B's have some solid options. If they can mend fences with Tim Thomas, the 2011 Conn Smythe winner would pretty much guarantee a win, along with plenty of entertainment. A reunion of Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin—the duo that helped take down the Canadiens in a legendary 1988 playoff series—would be special, too. And if Boston needs someone who’s actually in something close to game shape, they can call on former Calder Trophy winner Andrew Raycroft, who was last seen playing in the Swedish first division back in 2013–14.
Ray Bourque, who still looks like he could lace ’em up for the main game, will be the main attraction on the blue line. He could be joined by Al Iafrate, Glen Wesley and his old partner, current Bruins GM Don Sweeney. Alumni team regulars like Bruce Shoebottom, Bob Beers and Frank Simonetti are a good bet to be involved, as is the recently retired Hal (Skillsy) Gill.
Up front, Boston is likely to be led by team president Cam Neely—even if his creaky hips only allow for a shift or two—along with Rick Middleton and Terry O’Reilly. Mark Recchi, a member of the 2011 Cup champions, should be available, along with fan favorites P.J. Axelsson, Sergei Samsonov, Anson Carter and Luc Dufour, as well as broadcasters Barry Pedersen and Andy Brickley.
Of course, it wouldn’t really be the Bruins without Jay Miller, Lyndon Byers, P.J. Stock and Kenny Linseman on hand to keep everybody honest. And it’d be great if Marc Savard, whose rights were recently traded to the Panthers, could lace ’em up for one last twirl in the black and gold.
Montreal won’t have any problem matching Boston’s firepower. The Canadiens can draw on an impressive alumni group that includes forwards Denis Savard, Steve Shutt, Vincent Damphousse, Stéphane Richer and Guy Carbonneau. Claude Lemieux and Shayne Corson could also be available, and Bob Gainey is known to still skate on occasion. Chris Nilan, who played for both teams during his career, is more likely to suit up for the Habs. And while it’s probably too much expect Guy Lafleur and Yvon Lambert to come flying down the right wing one more time, we can hope.
On the back end, Montreal can call on Chris Chelios, Sheldon Souray, Patrice Brisebois, J.J. Daigneault and current GM Marc Bergevin, with Steve Penney and Richard Sevigny, a pair of alumni team regulars, manning the nets.
Odds are both teams will have plenty of volunteers to choose from. Whoever ends up making the cut, it’ll be a good one.
RANKING THE WINTER CLASSIC JERSEYS
• A pair of developers discuss building new arenas and possible expansion markets for minor league hockey.
• Here’s a terrific piece on how hockey is helping one family cope with their child’s autism.