Source: Flyers could take Winter Classic to the Bank

Sabres' Mike Weber briefly turns out the lights on Flyers' Dan Carcillo, as goalie Ryan Miller watches the action.
Sabres' Mike Weber briefly turns out the lights on Flyers' Dan Carcillo, as goalie Ryan Miller watches the action.
Posted: April 21, 2011

BUFFALO - Two very important events for the Flyers' bid to host the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia happened Tuesday.

The NFL, though still in a lockout, released the schedule for its upcoming season, and the NHL agreed to a 10-year, $2 billion deal with NBC Sports Group for its U.S. television rights.

The Eagles have a home game scheduled for New Year's Day against Washington at Lincoln Financial Field. But that will not prevent the NHL from hosting an outdoor game in Philadelphia if the league chooses.

A league source familiar with the NHL's thinking regarding the 2012 Winter Classic told the Daily News yesterday that Citizens Bank Park is a "very real possibility" to host the event.

Even though the 2011 Winter Classic at the Steelers' Heinz Field in Pittsburgh was considered a success, the NHL apparently prefers the coziness and layout of a ballpark as opposed to a football stadium.

As reported in early January, there is very little chance the NHL will stick with New Year's Day for the 2012 Winter Classic. Even though the 4-year-old event has always been held on the first of the year, 2012 would be the first year that falls on a Sunday - and no TV entity has much interest in taking on the NFL, a ratings behemoth.

No specific opponent has been discussed for the Flyers if they are the host, though the Rangers - who have never participated in the game - appear to be the most likely candidate.

One idea that has been kicked around in league headquarters is to move the annual outdoor game to New Year's Eve and having it played in prime time.

The league also has discussed something different - four regional outdoor games, all played on the same day, not only to try to capitalize on the popularity of the event, but also to get other worthy opponents involved in the game, which has been played only between cold-weather teams.

The idea for four simultaneous regional games has met with some criticism, as the league worries about turning the game into a gimmick and watering down its popularity.

Still, the biggest hurdle for Philadelphia was not the NFL's schedule. No detail of the Winter Classic could be discussed until a television deal was brokered.

NBC has significant interest in working with the NHL to find a manageable time for the marquee event that it has helped turned into a tradition. The same could not be said for ESPN, Fox Sports and Turner Sports, all of which kicked the tires on the league's U.S. TV rights.

Now, with the NBC deal set, negotiations between interested parties are expected to heat up in the coming weeks.

Carter injured

Flyers forward Jeff Carter left last night's Game 4 with approximately 2 minutes remaining in the first period after awkwardly colliding with Buffalo's 6-8 defenseman, Tyler Myers.

The play seemed innocent enough, but television replays revealed a knee-on-knee collision with Myers just in front of the Sabres' net. Myers remained on the ice with an apparent injury, then went to the locker room, but returned to the ice for the start of the second period.

Carter, who scored his first goal of the series on Tuesday, was not as fortunate. He did not return and was limping after the game, but the Flyers said no more than that he was "day-to-day." The team called it it a lower-body injury. Carter will be re-evaluated today in Philadelphia.

Carter played a total of 5 minutes, 53 seconds. *

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