Bettman: 'The entire city did a great job'

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gave some hints but didn’t reveal the site of next year’s Winter Classic.

“To answer your first question, I don’t know where we’re going next year,” Bettman said before the first question was even asked. Bettman was speaking at a news conference yesterday after the Rangers beat the Flyers, 3-2, at Citizens Bank Park. “If you eliminate the warmer climates, and we’re not going to a place where we’ve been.”

Detroit has been mentioned as a possible location for a future Winter Classic. The Red Wings are one of the league’s successful franchises and Motown fits Bettman's current geographic criteria. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, 45 minutes from Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit, hosted an outdoor game last season against Michigan State and drew more than 100,000 fans to Michigan Stadium.

As for this year’s Classic, Bettman was thrilled about Philadelphia’s presentation of his sport’s most popular event.

"Philadelphia did a spectacular job,” Bettman said. “Couldn’t ask for anything more. The alumni game on Saturday was a great appetizer for the main event today. The entire city did a great job. There was a buzz in the entire city.”

This was the fifth Winter Classic, and they seem to be growing in popularity. The NHL has carved out a New Year’s spot on the busy sports television calendar by turning its arena game outdoors. The NHL also has made sure it has top players or rivalries playing in the Classic, such as the Flyers-Rangers matchup.

“A rivalry outdoors is just as good as one indoors,” Bettman said, beaming.