Professional hockey will be coming to Flushing’s biggest stadium on the first day of 2018.
New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres players met at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, on Sept. 8 to celebrate the upcoming National Hockey League (NHL) Winter Classic taking place at the baseball stadium. The outdoor game is slated for Jan. 1.
“It’ll be a great thing to have the New York state fans come out to the ballpark and to the area to watch the game,” said New York Rangers captain and defenseman Ryan McDonagh. “It’s amazing to think that [over 40,000] people can watch us play here.”
Given that its the 10th anniversary of the Classic, McDonagh continued, there will be some extra special elements added to the annual event.
Rangers left winger Rick Nash said he’s anticipating playing the sport in a form reminiscent of his childhood years.
“I always remember growing up on the pond,” said Nash, who is from Canada. “After school we’d go right out to the pond and play. And you kind of lose that a bit when you’re paying in all these arenas. But this is as close as we’re gonna get to playing a professional game in its original form.”
Despite the fun atmosphere anticipated on Jan. 1, the alternate captain said, both teams will be playing with playoffs in mind.
“It’s a whole event — but obviously two points are up for grabs,” said Rangers left winger Rick Nash. “And it’ll be that time of year when you’re gonna want to be getting as many points as you can.”
The league’s annual event has never been held in New York City. It will be both the Sabres and Rangers’ second appearance in the event.
“We knew that the Winter Classic would take our game back to its outdoor roots, and would provide an opportunity for fans to come together in unprecedented numbers and continue their New Years Ever parties by attending an NHL game outside in a nontraditional venue, ” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “But no one could have imagined that this great event would actually become a classic.”
The New Year’s Day game will be broadcast live on NBC, Sportsnet in Canada and TVA Sports at 1 p.m E.T.