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Devils players ready for their outdoor opportunity

by Adam Kimelman

Since the Winter Classic became an annual NHL event in 2008, it's become the highlight of the regular-season schedule.

This season, the overwhelming popularity of playing outside has produced the Coors Light Stadium Series, which will hit Yankee Stadium for a pair of games, with the first set for Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, between the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.

The puck won't drop for that event for another six weeks, but for a few members of the Devils, the time can't go fast enough.

"I've been watching all these Winter Classic games, and I was like, 'God, I can't believe the Devils are never on, we're not popular enough,'" Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur told "Now finally we've got a game right here in New York. It's going to be awesome."

Making the game even more exciting will be the fact that two points in the standings are on the line.

"The game is going to count," Brodeur said. "I've played some charity games [outdoors] that you just play for fun. But this is going to be a real game. I'm really looking forward to it."

Like most other NHL players, Brodeur played outside extensively while growing up in Montreal.

"Couldn't feel my toes, that's how we knew it was time to stop," he said. "We played seven days a week all winter long from 4 years old to 14, 15 years old. I mean, it's what we did. Go to school, do your homework and go play hockey. That's all we did. Come back for dinner and go back again. It's a great life."

Teammate Andy Greene had similar memories from his childhood in Trenton, Mich.

"Playing on the ponds and lakes and makeshift backyards and home ice rinks," the defenseman told "It's exciting. It's exciting to go back to your roots there and get out there and play outside."

Like Brodeur, Greene has spent the past few years watching the outdoor games and hoping someday he'd have a chance to share those experiences.

"Being able to watch the last few Winter Classics, you can see the energy, feel the energy through the TV," Greene said. "I think it's just going to be interesting being there at Yankee Stadium with just the Yankee organization, the history behind all of that and the stadium, and it will be great. Obviously, playing the Rangers … it's a great rivalry and it will be a great time out there in mid-January."


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