The 2016 Bridgestone Winter Classic lineup may have taken a blow this week with the news that All Star goaltender of the Montreal Canadiens, Carey Price will be unavailable after aggravating an injury last week, there is still plenty of buzz surrounding the first outdoor match-up between the Canadiens and Boston Bruins, one of the greatest rivalries in NHL history.
On January 1st the Habs and Bruins will faceoff at the Gilette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. home of the New England Patriots, in an outdoor contest that is expected to draw a crowd of over 68,000 hockey fans for New Years Day.
The animosity between the teams has not waned in recent years, likely because the Habs and Bs have faced off in the playoffs more than any other two teams in NHL history, including four times in the last ten years. Even if Milan Lucic is no longer a member of the Bs Habs fans will arrive in droves to deride Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand. And though Bruins fans will not be able to geer at Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher, who is also out with injury, there is still P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty and Dale Weise to keep things interesting.
Even with the recent fiery exchanges, including Lucic’s threat on Weise after the 2014 playoffs, the Winter Classic became all the more anticipated with the announcement of the lineup for the December 31st, Alumni game, where legends from both teams from a variety of eras will hit the ice for a historic matchup between the storied rivals.
The Canadiens alumni roster includes such recent alumni as Benoit Brunet, Patrice Brisebois, Guy Carbonneau, Eric Desjardins, Mike Keane and Lyle Odelein, all members of the 1993 Stanley Cup championship roster. Classic roster members include Rick Green, Sergio Momesso, Mats Naslund, Larry Robinson, Steve Shutt, as well as Christian Bordeleau, Lucian Deblois, Normand Dupont, Gaston Gringras, and goaltender Richard Sevigny. More recent favourite roster members include the last Hab to score 50 goals, Stephane Richer, as well as Donald Audette, Francis Bouillon, Stephane Quintal, Oleg Petrov, Alex Kovalev and goaltender José Theodore. Chris Nilan will also take part as a member of the Canadiens squad though he played two seasons with the Bruins from 1990-1992.
The Bruins’ roster features a similar mashup of names and eras including three former Canadiens, Hal Gill, Mark Recchi and Segei Samsonov. Other players include recent members PJ Axelsson, goaltender Andrew Raycroft and Marco Sturm. Other legends of the game include the Bruins’ all time leading scorer Ray Bourque, current president Cam Neely, Al Iafrate and New York Rangers legend Brian Leetch who played one season with the Bruins from 2005-2006. Other notable names include: Boob Beers, Rob DiMaio, Tom Fergus, Steve Heinze, Reggie Lemelin, Ken Linesman, Rick Middleton, Jay Miller, Terry O’Reilly and Bob, Don & Tim Sweeney.
While the Habs coaching staff are comprised of legends Guy Lafleur, Yvon Cournoyer, Rejean Houle and 1993 Cup Champion coach Jacques Demers, the Bruins have recruited Don Cherry and Mike Milbury among others for what is sure to be a very entertaining game.