I'm not ashamed to admit. I love the Winter Classic. I've watched all of the last 4, missing only the first one. Having attended the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway, I readily admit it was one of my favorite sporting events I've ever attended live (although nothing will top the Snow Bowl at the now defunct Foxboro Stadium). That despite the fact that I had ideal baseball seats for the game, which meant I was mostly only able to see Zdeno Chara's helmet. So, while most hockey-centric sites are focusing on future sites they'd like to see and future matchups, I'd like to focus on games that could potentially involve our defending Stanley Cup Champion (never get tired of saying that) Boston Bruins.
Yankee Stadium The Bronx, NY - The first and possibly most obvious match for the Bruins and the Winter Classic would be Bruins-Rangers at what is the latest version of Yankee Stadium. From an NBC Standpoint. This one would be a total no-brainer. Two Original 6 teams, two major American media markets, and of course the association that those two cities and that particular venue have via their storied baseball rivalry. Yankee Stadium, as most know, is unavailable to host a Winter Classic until January 1, 2015, but you'd have to imagine that the NHL and NBC would do whatever they could to get these two together there. Especially considering the fact that it's very possible that the Bruins and Rangers could be Stanley Cup contenders in each season leading up to that game.
Notre Dame Stadium South Bend, IN - Personally, I love the idea of the Winter Classic in iconic venues, and Notre Dame Stadium is absolutely one of those. This particular venue would represent a change from the NHL/NBC's tried and true method of having it in an existing NHL city in a professional football or baseball stadium. Chicago is less than 2 hours from South Bend, and would make the sensible choice for the "host" team. I also believe that the Bruins, another original 6 franchise that hails from a very Irish-American city make for a tremendous opponent for the Blackhawks. A Notre Dame-Boston College Hockey East game could also be on the docket for the week's festivities.
Harvard Stadium Cambridge, MA - Obviously with the Bruins recently having hosted a game at Fenway Park, a return of the Winter Classic to New England would likely be years down the road. Whether the next trip to Boston will include a return to Fenway or a visit to Gillette will probably depend on whether the NHL and NBC want to go for the nostalgia or the increased gate receipts. But for me, I'd rather go for what for me would be the cool factor of having the game in the Nation's Oldest Stadium. And who better to take part than two of the league's oldest rivals in the Bruins and the Canadiens. Obviously the league would have to forgo what would be increased ticket sales (by a huge margin) at Gillette in order to play in a unique venue, but in my mind that would be well worth it to prevent the Classic from going stale from having it in yet another nondescript NFL Stadium.
The possibilities for the Winter Classic are endless and these are just the potential games that stand out in my mind. I hope I'm lucky enough as a fan to even see one of them come true and I'm sure there are fans that have completely different visions for the Bruins and the NHL's showcase game.