Confirming the rumor that had been discussed, both the Rangers and Devils will participate in the 2024 NHL Stadium Series next year. It’ll be held at Met Life Stadium in February 2024.
As reported by David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, the Stadium Series will feature four classic division rivals. One match-up will have the Devils taking on the Flyers in the old I95 rivalry down the Turnpike. The second game will have the Rangers taking on the Islanders. A rivalry that’s over hald a century.
For the Battle of Hudson, it’s a chance to be back on the national stage in a classic setting. Outdoor games have become a hockey tradition since the Oilers and Flames held the inaugural Heritage Classic in 2003. Since then, the NHL brought the Winter Classic to the hockey in 2008 when the Sabres hosted the Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It’s become a fixture ever since.
The NHL recently added the Stadium Series. The first one was held in 2014. It featured four different games and seven teams, including the Rangers. They played in two games at Yankee Stadium. It drew over 50,000 for each day. The Rangers defeated the Devils 7-3 and then were victorious over the Islanders 2-1 in late January 2014.
There have been games every season except 2021. One of the unique things about these outdoor games is the classic venues. Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium, Soldier Field, Michigan Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium, Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, and Carter-Finley Stadium have all hosted the big event.
For the Devils, it’s only their first outdoor game since the Stadium Series in 2014. They have never been put in the spotlight for the Winter Classic. Featuring stars Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Timo Meier, the time is coming when they should be featured in that traditional game following the New Year. They’re much more marketable now.
This will be the fourth time the Rangers get to take part in a marquee NHL outdoor event. Having also defeated the Flyers in a memorable Winter Classic in 2012, that’s best remembered for Henrik Lundqvist stoning Daniel Briere on a penalty shot at Citizens Bank Park to preserve a 3-2 win, they’re a perfect 4-0 in such games. They swept the Devils and Islanders two years later at Yankee Stadium. Then, they defeated the Sabres 3-2 in overtime at Citi Field in 2018.
It’ll be interesting to see how well the NHL markets these games. In recent years, they haven’t promoted it as much. Marketing its brightest stars still leaves something to be desired.
Whenever they talk about growing the game, you wouldn’t know it. The Stanley Cup Finals is about to feature the Panthers, who shut out the Hurricanes 1-0 on the remarkable goaltending of Sergei Bobrovsky. They lead the Eastern Conference Final three games to none. Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk are about to get the big stage unless the Canes can make history.
You also have the Golden Knights leading the Stars two games to none. Game 3 is tonight in Dallas. These aren’t traditional markets. But they feature some of the game’s best players. Vegas is getting a Conn Smythe performance from Jack Eichel. The Stars are here thanks to the emergence of top center Roope Hintz. Both teams have other quality players. It’ll be interesting to see how well the Stanley Cup draws.
The Rangers remain in search of a new coach following the breakup with Gerard Gallant. It’s become a long process with no end in sight. They’ve interviewed Peter Laviolette and Mike Babcock. The latter of who I want no part of. I don’t think Laviolette is the right fit. I’d much prefer a younger candidate like Kris Knoblauch or Jay Leach.
Such is life for an organization in chaos. How else would you explain the Garden not commenting on former longtime trainer Jim Ramsay after he was unceremoniously let go? It’s hard to have faith in the Rangers when you know Dumb and Dumber are still pulling the strings. Why else did Patrick Kane come when he was hurting and didn’t fit in?
As far as star players, they boast a few highlighted by Igor Shesterkin, Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin, and Chris Kreider. The question is, can Chris Drury figure out a way to find the right balance. The cap isn’t favorable. Are they going to do the right thing by keeping both Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller?
At this point, anything is possible. At least they get an outdoor game for fans to attend in the freezing cold.