The New York Rangers are practicing outside in front of fans for the first time in more than a decade this Saturday, according to the team’s spokeswoman.
All 22 teammates plan to skate on Lasker Rink inside Central Park starting at noon, when fans can watch and listen to narration from retired goalkeeper Stephen Valiquette and longtime reporter John Giannone, both of the MSG Network.
The last time the Rangers did an outdoor practice was during the 2003-04 season when Mark Messier was on the team, a spokeswoman said. Then, it was at Central Park’s Wollman Rink.
Lasker Rink, located in the north end of the park near 110th Street and Lenox Avenue, is used by Central Park Ice Hockey and the Hawks hockey teams. (The rink has been formally known as Trump Lasker Rink since 2001 when our current president, Donald Trump, then just a businessman, took over running it.)
Get there early since season ticket members have seating. There is spillover space that is free and open to the public once the doors open at 11 a.m.
Defenseman Brady Skjei said he’s excited to practice outside, because it reminds him of playing with his friends growing up.
“I grew up in Minnesota, where we played in outdoor rinks and ponds, so this is a nice flashback to childhood,” he said. “It’s nice to feel the cool air, but hanging out with friends was the best part of that.”
He explained the team will still try to get as much out of the practice as they can, but “the end will be a little different,” because the team will “probably have a little fun at the end with the fans.”
The Rangers, ranked No. 6 in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division, will go up against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are currently ranked No. 5 and took the Stanley Cup in the past two seasons, on Tuesday — an away game.
The event is free and starts at noon. Lasker Rink is located in Central Park at Fifth Avenue, between 106th and 108th streets.