The NHL and the three New York City area-based teams were looking for a fourth dance partner to create a unique outdoor “weekend” next winter.
What better candidate than the Flyers?
After all, they’re located just a convenient trip down the New Jersey Turnpike and there are strong built-in regional rivalries with the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
So it didn’t take long for the invitation to go out and the Flyers gladly accepted.
They are scheduled to play the Devils at MetLife Stadium, home of the football New York Giants and New York Jets, on Saturday, Feb. 17 in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Rangers and Islanders will square off in the other match on Sunday, Feb. 18.
Both games will be broadcast on ESPN.
It’s the first time the NHL has ever played two outdoor games in this sort of unique back-to-back, same-venue format.
“We are thrilled to announce that the 2024 Navy Credit Union NHL Stadium Series will be played at MetLife Stadium,” said NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer in a Zoom call on Saturday.
“The Devils and Flyers will play on Saturday and on Sunday the Rangers and Islanders will play.”
Official starting times have not yet been released yet but we do know the Flyers and Devils will play a night game and the league is still trying to work out a window for the two New York teams the following day.
Initial reports had just the Rangers and Islanders playing. Mayer explained how the Flyers and Devils were added to the festivities.
“We had always wanted to go back to play a game at MetLife Stadium,” Mayer said. “It’s always been an interest of ours. MetLife has always been a difficult place to think about doing a Winter Classic (usually played at or near Jan. 1) because of the two NFL teams.
“So we had been talking to them about interest for a long time. When we started getting into the matchups, the game and the great hockey that right now is being played in the New York area, we felt this would be unique and different.”
Although there is some “offseason” work being done at MetLife, there is a belief there could be a seating capacity of over 75,000 for the games and it sounds like the league is confident it can fill that many seats.
The Flyers have played Winter Classic games in 2010 (at Boston) and 2012 (at home vs. Rangers) and sold out both of those. Also, two outdoor games (home and home) against Pittsburgh which drew overflow crowds. They most recently played outdoors in 2021 when they lost to Boston, 7-3, at Lake Tahoe.
Overall, the Flyers are 1-3-1 in open-air games.
Being part of a doubleheader adds a little more flavor to this sort of contest.
“We wanted to keep it fresh and thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great to go with a doubleheader?’” Mayer said. “As we talked to the Devils, and they’re really the host team playing in New Jersey, these were the matchups we thought would be extremely appealing to our fans.”
The NHL has a streak going of 37 consecutive sellouts in outdoor games.
“We have four of our great franchises playing,” Mayer said. “We’re going to really hone in on what makes those franchises special. We’re going to have fans of each of those teams at these games. It’s not that far for those Flyers fans to travel up the Turnpike to watch this game.
“We want to have a little something for everyone.”
There should be plenty of tickets to go around for all four sets of fans. For the Flyers-Devils game, Devils season ticketholders get first crack but that would still leave in excess of 50,000 more tickets on a first-come basis.
The Devils and Islanders will be the home teams for the two games. . . .All four teams have Monday left open on their schedules in case of weather/ice complications.