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WEEKES ON THE WEB

Stadium Series will be a showcase for hockey

Friday, 01.24.2014 / 3:01 AM

By Kevin Weekes - NHL Network Analyst / Weekes on the Web

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Weekes on the Web
Stadium Series will be a showcase for hockey

n a season that has already had so many highlights, it's incredible that we're about to witness three more historic events. After months of anticipation, the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series kicks off on Saturday as the Anaheim Ducks face off against the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium. The Stadium Series then heads East as the New York Rangers meet the New Jersey Devils at Yankee Stadium on Sunday before going against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

It's going to be an epic showcase for the sport.

Let's start with New York. I don't know how you can be in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut and not be at those games. As a hockey fan, it's going to be the place to be.

For all of us who grew up playing shinny outdoors, who would have ever thought we'd be witnessing an outdoor NHL game at Yankee Stadium? No matter how creative a thinker you are, I don't think anybody could have envisioned that. This takes your rink of dreams to a whole other level. Whether you're a player or a fan, I just think it's a great event. One thing is for sure, the atmosphere is going to be second-to-none.

I've played on every side of these rivalries in New York, and I can tell you that all three fan bases are unique and all three fan bases are passionate.

When it comes to these New York-area rivalries, everybody is always looking at what the Rangers are doing. It's an Original Six franchise with so much history. Once you're playing for the Rangers, you're thinking "we're the Rangers, we're New York." It's very different playing for the Devils. They are quiet and under-the-radar, just the way Lou Lamoriello likes them. They've been to five Stanley Cup Finals, so it's obviously working. Out on Long Island, the Islanders have a rich tradition of their own and their playoff run last season was truly special.

Sure, these Yankee Stadium games will be ground-breaking, but what about the game in Los Angeles? You want to talk about creativity and outside-the-box thinking. An outdoor game in California? At Dodger Stadium? Are you kidding me? How does it get any better than that?

The players and members of both staffs that I've spoken to are through the roof. Obviously the two points are critical to both teams, especially given how close the Western Conference is. The Kings won the Cup two years ago and the Ducks won it in 2007. Now both of these teams are top-tier teams and Stanley Cup contenders.

Most important, both of these teams have done so much to build the sport in California. It really comes down to the guys who have played for these franchises and what they mean on the ice as well as off the ice. Rob Blake and Luc Robitaille starred in L.A. and now both have new roles with the Kings. Then there's Scott Niedermayer and Paul Kariya, who have been so iconic with the Ducks. Chris Chelios didn't even play for these teams but he's a big part of the California movement out there living and training in Malibu.

All these games will be a global spectacle. People all over the world will be watching. It's just one more reason why my man Dan Craig, the NHL's resident ice guru, and his staff should be considered geniuses.

Let's not forget the alliance with two of the world's elite sports franchises. The New York Yankees are as historic as any team in sport. The Dodgers are an iconic brand in their own right. Any time a team sells for north of $2 billion, you're doing OK.

Over the next few days, these iconic baseball teams will be handing over the keys to their ballparks for a series of historic outdoor hockey games that we'll be talking about for some time.

Quote of the Day

I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning
2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series