The New York Islanders’ drought of having not been featured in an outdoor game — one of the NHL’s benchmark events each season — will end at an even decade with the official announcement that they’ll play the Rangers at the 2024 Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 18.
After 10-year absence, Islanders finally get call back to NHL Stadium Series
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“We’ve always felt that this is a team that we’d love to get in another game,” NHL chief content officer, Steve Mayer, said of the Islanders. “The timing was perfect, it worked out great.”
The Islanders-Rangers clash will be the second leg of a first-ever doubleheader for the Stadium Series. The New Jersey Devils will host the Philadelphia Flyers to commence the festivities a day earlier on Feb. 17.
Due to a clause in the Rangers’ lease agreement with Madison Square Garden which states they can only play their home venues at the Manhattan arena, the Islanders once again will be considered the home team. That takes a New York rivalry game away from UBS Arena next season after it hosted just one of three during the 2022-23 campaign.
Such was the case nine years ago when the Islanders were the host team for the 2014 Stadium Series against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium — the only other time the Islanders have been featured at an outdoor game.
“The New York Islanders are honored to have been selected by the National Hockey League to host a game at MetLife Stadium,” Islanders president and general manager, Lou Lamoriello, said. “Our fan base is one of the most passionate in the NHL and deserves to experience this memorable event, along with our players and the entire organization. We look forward to playing our division rival inside one of the largest professional stadiums in the country.”
By comparison, the Rangers have played in four outdoor games and the Philadelphia Flyers — who will face the New Jersey Devils one day earlier at MetLife Stadium to create a first-ever doubleheader for the Stadium Series — have played in five.
The NHL has often been predictable with their picks for these events, especially when it comes to the keystone Winter Classic game on New Year’s Day. In 16 editions of the game, only 14 different teams — including the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks getting four games each — have played in the game.
In total 28 of 32 teams have participated in outdoor games, but nine teams — the Blackhawks, Bruins, Rangers, Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, and Toronto Maple Leafs — had been chosen a combined 42 times. The other 23 teams in the NHL had been picked just 28 times, though the league has tried to rectify that in recent years.
“We’re spreading the wealth around the league,” Mayer said. “Sometimes the cycle is just a matter of trying to get all our teams in the game. The Islanders have had great success over the last 10 years and they continue to be on the verge of making the playoffs or being in the playoffs… The only reason why it’s probably been 10 years is just because we have a lot of teams that we’ve been trying to give a chance to play in one of these outdoor games and now we’ve come back to the Islanders at a great time where I think their organization is making some changes, all great ones, and it’ll be really fun to have them play the Rangers.”