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Outdoor ice a return to childhood for Islanders

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- As a child, New York Islanders captain John Tavares spent the majority of his free time skating on the backyard rink of Sam Gagner, a neighborhood friend who has gone on to play for the Edmonton Oilers. Those memories came flooding back Tuesday.

Tavares' trip down memory lane was triggered when he and his teammates found themselves at Yankee Stadium, preparing for their 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series showdown with the New York Rangers on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

"We used to spend six, seven hours out there," Tavares said of his childhood days of skating with Gagner. "I remember not being able to feel my fingers or toes for a few hours. That was a lot of fun.

"Ramsey Lake, up in Sudbury, Ontario, where my family's from, being a little kid my dad used to bring me out there. Minor hockey too, before I played with Sam, we used to play once a week outside on just a local outdoor rink. It wasn't so much practice, we would just go out there and play shinny and have fun and just enjoy playing the game. We played a lot outside, and I'm looking forward to create some more memories [Wednesday]."


Stadium experience for Okposo, Kreider began in '10

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Before the 2014 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic drew more than 105,000 spectators to Michigan Stadium and the University of Michigan hosted Michigan State University in a hockey game in front of an all-time record crowd of 113,411, there was Gelsenkirchen.

That German town hosted the first game of the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Hockey Championship. The game pitted the host nation against the United States at Veltins Arena, a sprawling soccer stadium that drew 77,803 fans. At the time, that attendance figure established a world record for a hockey game, topped seven months later at Michigan Stadium. The Americans lost that game 2-1, but two of the youngest players on the team will meet again, against a historic backdrop, when the New York Islanders host the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2) as part of the 2014 NHL Coors Light Stadium Series.

"It was a different experience. At the time, it was the most [spectators] ever at a hockey game. That was a pretty cool experience," Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said Tuesday after his team finished practice at Yankee Stadium. "You watched the soccer games on TV over there and you heard the hum of the crowd, the little buzz. That's how it was in the stadium. It was pretty neat."


Bailey: Stadium a cool atmosphere for practice

Josh Bailey - Special to NHL.com

New York Islanders forward Josh Bailey has been looking forward to the upcoming 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Isles and the New York Rangers (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2) at Yankee Stadium. In the second edition of the player blog he is doing for NHL.com this week, Bailey talks about his experience Tuesday practicing with his teammates at baseball's most famous ballpark.

We had the opportunity to skate at Yankee Stadium today, and it felt like junior hockey a little bit again with practice being later in the afternoon. But it was a good experience. Just to come down and see Yankee Stadium, you just try to soak it all in.

It was a good practice. We had some fun with the families out there afterwards. I was able to be out there with my girlfriend and my brother. It was a really enjoyable day.

I know everyone thinks about memories of playing outside, but I think that gets played up a little more than it actually is. To me, it felt like another practice. At the same time, it was obviously cool. It was a different atmosphere. The rink felt really small just because the area is so big. But it was a good experience.


Defenseman Brian Rafalski ends comeback bid

Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 5:54 PM / News


Defenseman Brian Rafalski has ended his attempted comeback with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.

"I'm done," Rafalski told the Ft. Myers (Fla.) News-Press on Tuesday. "My back is no good. That was one of the hurdles."

Rafalski joined the Everblades on Jan. 10 and played three games.

"There's no reason to keep going," the 40-year-old told the newspaper. "This is not something you can push or play through or goes away."


Rangers expect different environment vs. Islanders

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers aren't banking on experience being a big advantage in their second game at Yankee Stadium.

"It's going to be completely different," forward Chris Kreider said. "I think it's going to be an independent entity. You can take stuff from the game you just played in but that can change just like that. It's about how you adjust."

Kreider said the key for the Rangers heading into their 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game against the New York Islanders on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN) is to expect the unexpected.

It's hard to argue with that approach considering how much actually will be different for the Rangers in the Bronx.


Veteran Prospal formally announces retirement

Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 12:55 PM / News


Forward Vinny Prospal, who played 16 seasons in the NHL, formally announced his retirement Tuesday.

Prospal was expected to join the Vancouver Canucks' American Hockey League affiliate this past weekend on a professional tryout contract, but had a change in heart.

"I can confirm that this is the end of my career," Prospal told Czech website iDNES.cz. "I found out that I wouldn't be able to give 100 percent to hockey anymore."

Prospal, who turns 39 on Feb. 17, had 255 goals and 765 points in 1,108 career NHL games, including 12 goals and 30 points in 48 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season.


Rangers-Islanders Stadium Series game sold out


NEW YORK -- The 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ game between the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, Jan. 29 is sold out, the National Hockey League® announced today. The game will be broadcast live on NBCSN in the U.S. and TSN and RDS2 in Canada beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

With today's announcement, all four games of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ will be played in sold out stadiums. On Saturday, a festive crowd of 54,099 packed Dodger Stadium to see the spectacle of the NHL's first outdoor game played in California. On Sunday, the Rangers and New Jersey Devils entertained 50,105 fans in the first-ever hockey game played at Yankee Stadium.


The Front Line: Jagr primed to join exclusive list

Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Seven players in the history of the NHL have recorded 60 or more points during their age-40-or-older season, according to hockey-reference.com. Two of them have done it twice, so only nine times in total has it ever been achieved. Nine.

Gordie Howe posted 103 points in his age-40 season. He also had 71 points in his age-41 campaign. Teemu Selanne had 80 points in his age 40-season in 2010-11 and then had 66 points at age 41. The other five players to accomplish this feat were John Bucyk, Alex Delvecchio, Mark Messier, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Recchi. Howe and Selanne are the only two players to reach the 60-point mark in their age-41 seasons.

By the end of this season, an eighth member could be added to this 40-plus list and a third player to the 41-plus list.

Of course I'm referring to Jaromir Jagr, who has been a revelation for the New Jersey Devils and his fantasy owners.

Last week, NHL.com's Corey Masisak talked about Jagr joining the "40/40 club" in his Super 16, but this is about Jagr joining an even more exclusive list. Of course he hasn't done so yet, but it's certainly a realistic possibility.


Islanders place Hamonic on IR, recall Donovan

Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 11:06 AM / News


The New York Islanders on Tuesday placed defenseman Travis Hamonic on injured reserve and recalled defenseman Matt Donovan from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League.

Hamonic has missed the past eight games since sustaining a concussion during a game Jan. 12 against the Dallas Stars.

To fill his roster spot the Islanders recalled Donovan, who had been sent down a day earlier to clear a roster spot for defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who returned from a three-month absence due to a concussion to play Monday against the Boston Bruins.


Daily Primer Jan. 28: Howard back for Red Wings?

Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider


Jimmy Howard hasn't played in more than a week, but the Detroit Red Wings' starting goaltender seems primed for a return Tuesday night.

Howard, who sustained a knee injury in a game against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 20, could make his return when the Red Wings face the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET, FS-D, CSN-PH).

Detroit and Philadelphia are in a heated race for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference; the Flyers trail the Red Wings by one point for the second wild card.

Here's a closer look at the action Tuesday:

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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory