Dispatches from the 2016 Winter Classic


For the 2nd time in six years, the Boston Bruins hosted a Winter Classic. As a valued season ticket holder, I was invited to purchase a ticket for this event which is three times the cost of a normal game. I figured the sightlines for this event would have to be better than the 2010 game at Fenway, plus the ability to tailgate helps. So here are dispatches from Foxboro, MA earlier today at the NHL Winter Classic.

An eerie empty lot at 8:45 AM
  • Gillette is pretty notorious for being a brutal place to get in and park. When I attended a Patriots game in November, my friend Merrill and I waited for about an hour trying to get to lot P2. This time I picked him up at 7:50 AM and got there at 8:40. I was told they opened the lots at 8:30 so it was rather eerie to see the parking lot so empty.


    • On the pregame menu: small burgers served on English muffins, Thomas brand in honor of Tim Thomas, the winning goaltender of the 2010 Classic. The meat was rubbed with a chipotle dip mix, which is much better than a certain mix at a local Chipotle recently. English muffins are an underrated choice to use as buns and the whole grain option was a must since we would be eating like crap all day.
    • Merrill brought Zywiec beer, which is supposedly the #1 beer of Poland. I don’t know since I let my subscription to Eastern Europe Brew News lapse. It was pretty smooth stuff and very affordable. The can had an odd texture to it as well.
    • I am proposing a new tailgate rule: 30 second “shot clock” for men, 60 seconds for women at the portable toilets. Not sure how this can be enforced, though.
    • Getting into the stadium itself was much easier than any NFL game I have been to there with a very reasonable line and no invasive patdown. The TD Garden is pretty terrible in that regard now but I get around it by using the “mobile ticket only” line because hardly anyone else is using it.
    • Because Patriots tickets on the 100 level run at least $250+ for all games, I have never sat there for anything, concerts included. After scouting out where the bathroom was (and finding out later that one was much closer to my section 123 seat), I took a peek in something called the Draft Kings Lounge. It was heated and I saw a lot of different beers on tap. When I saw Switchback Beer from Burlington, VT I threw my money at it because that’s good beer. Please note: if a brewery has a good tour, I will generally support and hawk your wares.
    • Oh yeah, they played a game too. Montreal destroyed the Bruins 5-1 to which I had to remind myself this is only a regular season game, just one on national TV. Still embarrassing. The Bruins came out very slow as I whined and complained about the low shot total. The Habs had 0 blocked shots in the first period because THERE WAS NOTHING TO BLOCK.
Unobstructed view, sort of
Unobstructed view, sort of
  • Weird political game went on in my section: People standing up even if we could see fine. The line of people standing was immediately to my left and I was on the border on the “sitting” side and nothing blocked my view. One guy bitched loudly about it, even if I would have rather stood the whole time. People sat down about 12 minutes in but it’s always funny to see how that sort of situation plays out.
  • I made a deal with the people around me when it was 3-0 Montreal that if the Bruins score just one goal, this will be easier to accept. Well, they got it but all that did was help me avoid the nutso feeling when they get shutout. When they put a 0 on the board, it’s like they didn’t even play. I also came to terms with the fact that I had my Winter Classic David Krejci jersey on by stating that since he’s injured, none of this is his fault and I can continue to wear it.
  • I must admit I felt slightly bad for The Voice guy getting booed as he was introduced for the US anthem. Simple Plan did a good Canadian anthem. But the between periods stuff was abysmal. The guy from the band Fun (Nate Ruess) played the first intermission and was so pedestrian. Bruins were awful in the first, so that didn’t help. Simple Plan came back at the 2nd intermission with the game at 3-0 and many people (self included) had enough. They would yell “make some noise” and we would boo them. Probably had something to do with a band from Montreal coming in and telling us to be happy. If it was Arcade Fire, I might have been okay but not with those guys.
  • Interesting fact that I am editing into this post after the fact: The Bruins have played a playoff series against every other team that has played in a Winter Classic since 2010. Buffalo (2010), Pittsburgh (2013), Detroit (2014), Chicago (2013), Washington (2012), Philadelphia (2010 and 2011), NY Rangers (2013), and Toronto (2013).
  • Post game meal: Rapacki kielbasa from Long Island, NY. Very good stuff, though perhaps a bit big for hot dog rolls we still got it down. Had to kill a lot of time because it is also horrible exiting Gillette. Tailgating for over an hour postgame still led us into a traffic jam for 5 miles up Route 1.
  • Three fans of the game, not including the little kid in front of my who thought my sarcastic commentary was hilarious:

20160101_1635363rd star: It wasn’t easy playing without Brad Marchand for the Bruins and this guy helpfully reminded everyone why he was out of the lineup. I don’t endorse the fact that the jersey is of the Chinese counterfeit variety, but a protest is always welcome. I did not put INJURED on my Krejci jersey, though.

20160101_1422322nd star: See that last section of red seats? One hearty soul stayed outside during the first intermission and was the only person there.

20160101_1140561st star: Gotta admit I laughed out loud at that one. And don’t be such a damn stickler for when the internet started since I know it was around in 1993. I never had internet until September 1995 so I draw the line about a year before then.

Honorable mention to the guy in the lot who ran a siren every time a Montreal fan walked by. Hilarious.

There were no fights in the stands or any of the issues often seen at these rivalry  games. Hockey fans can hold their liquor, you know. It was a good experience and all, but glad we won’t be hosting this event for a very long time since there isn’t anywhere else to go.

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