NEW YORK -- With the new NHL season fast approaching, some of the game's biggest stars enjoyed an eventful morning that mixed sight-seeing with discussion of the half-dozen outdoor games on the 2013-14 schedule.
The players started on Wall Street, where they opened Friday's trading at the New York Stock Exchange. The group included John Tavares of the New York Islanders, Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks, Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings, but it was Patrick Sharp of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks who had the honor of ringing the opening bell.
"This morning was great," Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators told NHL.com. "We got to open up the stock exchange, which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me."
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The group, which included Toronto's David Clarkson, Andy Greene of the New Jersey Devils and Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks, next visited the observation deck above Rockefeller Center in Midtown.
"This is the first time I've ever come to this city and been to the top of this building," Howard said as he admired one of the best views in the city. "It's pretty cool to look out and see how big Central Park actually is."
Everyone in the group, which was later joined by Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, is playing for a team that will compete in at least one of this season's six scheduled outdoor games. In addition to the Red Wings and Maple Leafs facing off in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Jan. 1, 2014, the Canucks and Senators will meet in the Heritage Classic in Vancouver on March 2. Four other outdoor games are scheduled to be played in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as part of the NHL Stadium Series.
Getzlaf, whose Ducks will face the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25, said playing outdoors in Southern California should be a unique experience, even by outdoor-game standards.
"Most of the games are played when it's cold outside," Getzlaf told NHL.com. "For us, it's going to be a cool experience having that many people there in that kind of venue."
Most of the players standing at the Top of the Rock had little experience competing in outdoor games and admitted they weren't sure what to expect. But according to Lundqvist, a veteran of the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia, all of the participants will leave with lasting memories.
"I played one in Philly a few years back, and it was an amazing experience. Now we get two games in Yankee Stadium. I think the atmosphere will be amazing," said Lundqvist, whose Rangers will play the Devils and Islanders three days apart (Jan. 26 and 29). "The buildup was big. I was hoping for a great day and it turned out even better."