NHL, NJ to host 4 teams, 2 outdoor games in ’24

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

The 2024 NHL Stadium Series will be held at MetLife Stadium in February as a two-day event featuring four rival teams, the league announced on Saturday.

The New Jersey Devils will host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, Feb. 17, in an outdoor night game. The New York Islanders will host the New York Rangers on Sunday, Feb. 18, at a time yet to be determined.

The Rangers had to be designated as the road team against the Islanders because of their Madison Square Garden lease agreement, which forbids them from playing a home game anywhere but MSG.

The event will mark the first time four NHL teams have played outdoor games at the same venue in front of fans. The games will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Stadium Series event joins a 2023-24 season NHL outdoor game schedule that includes the Heritage Classic between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 29 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, and the NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2024, between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park.

Initially, the NHL’s plan for MetLife Stadium was to have the Rangers face the Devils in a single game between the archrivals, who met in the Stanley Cup playoffs this postseason.

“There’s been many iterations of what we wanted to do here. But when we started getting into the matchups, the game, the tri-state area and the great hockey that’s being played in the New York area, we felt this would be unique and a way to keep our outdoor games fresh,” Steve Mayer, NHL chief content officer and senior executive vice president, said.

“Obviously, the goal is to continue our incredible streak of 37 straight sellouts [in outdoor games], and we really feel very confident that these two matchups will fill two buildings, two days in a row, which for us will be unprecedented.”

The capacity for the two MetLife games is something the NHL is still determining. The NHL said that MetLife Stadium will be undergoing some renovation next offseason in preparation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup Soccer that will impact some of the low-level sideline seating.

“We will be losing a few seats due to that,” said Dean Matsuzaki, NHL executive vice president of events.

The NHL anticipates attendance will be over 75,000 for each game. Currently, the third-largest crowd for an outdoor game was 76,126 for the 2019 Winter Classic at the University of Notre Dame.

MetLife Stadium is home to the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets and is located minutes from New York City. But Mayer said the plan is to emphasize that the games are being held in New Jersey, despite the presence of the New York teams.

“We’re going to get super creative. We’re going to highlight. It’s our goal that when somebody tunes in to watch this, they know we’re playing in New Jersey. We’re going to look at all the things that New Jersey area has to offer,” Mayer said, adding that the league plans to “lean into the music scene with some of those typical names” associated with the state.

“When it comes to entertainment, which we always focus on, and I think we’re going to go bigger because of the weekend. We’ll try to do something in between games, after games and before games that really celebrates not only hockey, but the music of the area as well,” Mayer said.

This is the sixth regular-season outdoor game for the Flyers, who are 1-3-1 in those events. Philadelphia last played outdoors in February 2021 against the Boston Bruins in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The Rangers are playing their fifth outdoor game, having gone 4-0-0. Their most recent outdoor game was the 2018 Winter Classic at New York City’s Citi Field. The Devils (0-1-0) and Islanders (0-1-0) are both playing their second outdoor game, having both lost to the Rangers at Yankee Stadium in 2014.

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