By Seth Daniel
National Hockey League (NHL) officials, City officials, neighborhood leaders and a host of excited hockey-stick wielding young boys gathered at Ryan Playground Thursday evening, Dec. 17, in a driving rain storm to officially open the new Bryan McGonagle Street Hockey Rink courtesy of the City, the NHL and several corporate partners.
The new rink shone brightly under brand new lights, with a new asphalt surface, new fiberglass boards with rounded edges, top-of-the-line goals and a brand new scoreboard.
The $300,000 renovation project was a partnership between the NHL, the City, Bridgestone Tires and Constellation Energy (which owns the Mystic Generating Station across the Mystic River) – among others. The impetus for the project is the NHL’s annual WinterFest game, which is an outdoor game played annually on New Year’s Day between two original NHL franchise teams. This year, the game will be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. As part of the publicity and community service aspects of the popular game, the NHL tries to leave a project behind that will help the community and further interest in the game of hockey.
“The NHL is proud to play a role in creating real change in Boston,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “We hope generations of young people will enjoy this facility. We are proud to announce that the Bryan McGonagle Street Hockey Rink renovation as our 2016 Bridgestone Winter Classic legacy project…This is something that is in the best interest of giving back and in the best interest in furthering the game of hockey.”
Mayor Martin Walsh took the microphone and immediately was transported back to his younger years when a street hockey rink and a hockey stick and ball were all that was needed for outdoor fun.
“I know any Charlestown person who is over 40 looked at this rink and said, ‘Oh my God,’ and wanted to pick up a stick and get out here for a little bit,” he said. “I’m not from Charlestown, but I know I was one of those people thinking that.”
He went on to say Charlestown is a big hockey neighborhood, and keeping the McGonagle name on the rink was very important to him.
“Many kids who played hockey on the streets of Charlestown went on to play college hockey or professional hockey,” he said.