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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Bruins expect to host Classic at Fenway

Associated Press

BOSTON -- Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs plans to ring in the new year by rooting for his team to win at Fenway Park.

Jacobs said Wednesday he expects the NHL's third annual Winter Classic, played outdoors on Jan. 1, to be at the home of the Boston Red Sox. He said an official announcement from the league could come in July.

"Everything I've seen acts like, looks like, smells like it's going to be in Boston," Jacobs said. "I don't know of anybody else that's gone through all of the search and process" to prepare for the game.

Jacobs said during a conference call that the league hasn't confirmed to him that Boston will be the site for the New Year's Day game. Pittsburgh played Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008 and Detroit played Chicago at Wrigley Field this year.

Media reports have indicated that Fenway Park will be the choice. Jacobs didn't discuss potential opponents for the Bruins.

"It's probably been the worst kept secret in Boston, but they won't tell me," Jacobs said of NHL officials. "So until they can confirm it to me, which they won't before the middle of July, we'll just have to go on the basis that we think it's going to happen and I believe it's going to happen."

By the time of the game, chances seem good that Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli will have signed an extension to his four-year contract. He has one year remaining.

"We're in the midst of negotiations with Peter," Bruins executive vice president Charlie Jacobs said. "We anticipate [it] happening sometime this summer. I'd hoped that we could have this done at this point. We're still in talks."

In Chiarelli's three seasons, the Bruins have gone from missing the playoffs to being seeded eighth to being seeded first. In those three regular seasons, their point totals have increased from 76 to 94 to 116, although they lost in the second round after compiling the NHL's second-best record this season.

The Bruins have developed a stable corps of youngsters and veterans backed by Vezina Trophy candidate Tim Thomas. Chiarelli may have a tough time keeping them together with a salary cap that Jacobs doesn't expect will change much from this season.

"When we hired Peter, we didn't hire him for four years. We hired him for the remainder of his professional career," Jeremy Jacobs said. "Peter has grown immensely in the last few years. ... We want to see him around long term and I think that's his objective as well."

Jacobs also praised Claude Julien, who finished his second year as coach, but said it's Chiarelli's job to deal with any extension on Julien's contract.

Julien led the Bruins to a first-round playoff sweep of Montreal. Then they had nine days without a game before facing Carolina. Boston lost Game 7 on an overtime goal.

"They know that they were more talented" than the way they played against the Hurricanes, Jeremy Jacobs said, "and that they probably have to work harder, be more committed than they were, but I was extremely proud of the team."

That team surpassed most expectations by finishing first in the Eastern Conference.

"It underpromised and overdelivered," Jeremy Jacobs said.

That won't be the case next season, when expectations will be great for a franchise that had its most wins since 1971-72, the last time the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.

"This was a great year, but I believe we have many more ahead of us," Charlie Jacobs said. "This is truly a team that's built [for] and expected to compete annually for a Cup. ... I think we're very close."