On Monday, Sept. 26 the NHL will make a major announcement from a ballpark in Philly. Why are they beating around the bush? It's the worst-kept secret in hockey.
The league will announce that Citizens Bank Park will play host to the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers for the NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 2, 2012. I think this may be the longest we've had to wait for official word on the annual outdoor game. The press conference usually happens during the summer.
Before I go on, credit where it's due. The Philadelphia sports blog Crossing Broad seems to have been the first with details, such as the confirmation of the new Winter Classic logo and a number of other details.
Yesterday, they posted a logo found on a fan-operated Winter Classic Facebook page. While they couldn't initially confirm its legitimacy, it sure looked like the real thing. Later in the day more details started to emerge, including a YouTube video labeled as the "official teaser" for the 2012 Winter Classic. It featured the new logo at the end.
Then came this photo of the Citizens Bank Park scoreboard from Philadelphia Inquirer writer Matt Gelb. I assume there was some testing being done in advance of Monday's press conference. Either that, or someone punched up a graphic they shouldn't have.
Either way, it proves the Winter Classic logo is legitimate while also giving us a sneak peek at the throwback logos to be used by each team. For the Flyers, no surprises. They haven't changed their logo since they joined the NHL in 1967. The Rangers, on the other hand, have gone through a number of iterations of their classic shield mark. This particular shield design was used by the Blueshirts between 1926 and 1947.
Now the jersey speculation can truly begin. There's almost no doubt in my mind the Flyers will stick with their current orange home sweater. It's based on their original look and it's as retro as they're going to get.
For the Rangers, there's a little wiggle room. According to NHLUniforms.com, the Rangers never wore a white jersey until 1951. And since then, the only one they've used that didn't resemble what's still worn to this day was in 1976 and 1977 when the shield was used as a crest. But I don't see them going that route.
Instead, may we'll see a break from tradition. The first Winter Classic in 2008 was the only time the home team has worn white out in the elements. Will the Flyers don white again in 2012, as they did in 2010 when they played the Bruins at Fenway? If so, it would allow the Rangers to simply use their current dark blue retro third jersey, meaning we wouldn't be treated to any new uniforms at all.
Of course, even if the Flyers wore their home orange, the Rangers could still sport their regular road whites. Either that or they could introduce a white version of their new third. It's hard to say for sure right now. We should know on Monday. But I don't imagine we'll be all that surprised.
What do you guys think? Are my expectations too conservative? Think the Rangers and Flyers have something special in mind that we haven't thought of yet? Speculate away!