The NHL's worst-kept secret becomes official today at 1: The Rangers and Flyers will meet in the Winter Classic Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies. They'll also be the subjects of HBO's 24/7, as the Penguins and Capitals were last year. Today's announcement will be shown live on NHL.com and the NHL Network.
---Also out of Philly is some scary news that Scott Hartnell, one of the Flyers' heart and soul players, is being sidelined by an elevated heart rate and will see a cardiologist on Tuesday.
---Also out of Chicago comes word the Hawks are going to try South Buffalo native Patrick Kane at center.
---In Pittsburgh, demolition began today of the old Civic (nee Mellon) Arena. The famous steel roof panels will be coming down first. That was a great old barn even if the visiting locker room was smaller than your average place for 10-year-olds in Amherst.
One of my best hockey memories was there: On Dec. 31, 1988, I happened to be in the stands for an afternoon game against the Devils when Mario Lemeiux collected eight points and became the only player in history to score five goals five ways in the same game: even strength, power play, short-handed, penalty shot and empty net. Incredible stuff.
---Across the street at Consol Energy Center, Sidney Crosby continues to skate with the team in controlled scrimmages but is still not cleared for contact.
---The Rangers leave tonight for Europe, where they will play four exhibition games before opening their season in Stockholm Oct. 7. But they will initially not be taking defenseman Marc Staal, who is still dealing with concussion symptoms after a hit from his brother, Eric, during a February game against Carolina.