For Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn, the thought of facing the Boston Bruins in the Jan. 1 Winter Classic at Fenway Park reminds him of his Canadian youth, when the "boards" were bales of hay that surrounded a makeshift rink in Saskatchewan, about 50 miles from Montana.

In a way, Coburn said, playing outdoors after all these years will be like going home.

For Peter Luukko, president of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, going back to Boston to face the Bruins also feels like home.

Because, for him, it is.

Luukko, 50, grew up in Worcester, Mass., and was a regular at Bruins and Red Sox games. He idolized Bruins such as Bobby Orr, Derek Sanderson, John "Pie Face" McKenzie, Ken Hodge, and Wayne Cashman.

"Those guys were all about 10, 12 years older than me," Luukko said. "When they were winning their Cups, I was like 12 or 13. When the Flyers were winning Cups, I was 15 or 16. So the rivalry played a special part in my life growing up."

Luukko remembers sneaking into the Boston Garden and Fenway Park with his friends.

"It was good training for this business - knowing all the ins and outs of how to get into an arena or a stadium," he said with a laugh.

Returning to Fenway is like "going full circle and is kind of neat," said Luukko, whose parents will take a flight from their home in Florida to be at the game.

"I'm a little luckier than most, being from the area," Luukko said. "In all my wildest dreams, none of us would have ever believed the Bruins would play at Fenway Park.

"So, to be able walk through that dugout up toward the ice, it's going to be a thrill for me. I've got all kinds of family coming to the game and some friends I haven't seen for many years."

He paused.

"I think I personally could have sold 40,000 tickets," he said.

As it is, Luukko - who wore No. 4 in honor of Orr when he played hockey - will have 50 friends and relatives at the game, which he called a matchup of "lunch pail" franchises.

The anticipation of playing outdoors, Coburn said, is like "waiting for Christmas when you're a kid."

It will bring back the innocence of playing on the pond in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan - and losing pucks in the hay bales.

Back then, there were no pressures, no expectations.

"It was just about having fun," Coburn said. "There was no coach telling you what to do. You would do your own thing. There was no time limit to when you get off the ice."

"The boards were so bad, so instead of fixing the boards - I think they rotted out - they put bails of hay around it," he said.

The toughest part about playing outdoors, Coburn said, "was getting someone to be a goalie. No one wanted to put on the pads because you have to lug them around.

"Sometimes we would have a pylon in front, or hang a sock in the middle of the net, and if you hit the sock with a shot, it was a goal."

Only a spoilsport would note that, the way the Flyers are shooting these days, the sock could be reused for several games.