According to Arthur Staple of Newsday, the Winter Classic will finally be coming to New York City. The report suggests the agreement is being finalized to have the New York Rangers face the Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field in Queens. The stadium is the home of the New York Mets, and would be the second New York state location to hold an outdoor game in a matter of days. Buffalo will be home to next winter’s World Junior Championships, where teams USA and Canada will meet for an outdoor contest on December 29th at New Era Stadium (home of the Buffalo Bills).
There have been two Stadium Series games played in NYC, both at Yankee Stadium and both in January of 2014. The Rangers took on the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders in those two, and also appeared in a Winter Classic in Philadelphia back in 2012. Buffalo on the other hand appeared in the first Winter Classic in 2008, but has been held out of outdoor games since.
While some may lament two teams facing off that have already participated in Winter Classics, it will still be a incredible financial opportunity for the league and give a showcase to one of the league’s forgotten young talents in Jack Eichel. Between his injuries and lack of national spotlight put on the Sabres, Eichel has lagged behind the Connor McDavid–Auston Matthews hype despite putting up incredible numbers of his own when healthy.
Though this had been rumored as the matchup for a while, Staple notes that there had been talks of holding the game at Westpoint instead, though apparently that will not happen in 2017-18. Perhaps down the road another game will appear there. For now, the league continues to use the “traditional” hockey markets as venues for the Winter Classic, as the series has only included 11 teams to this point. The Chicago Blackhawks, participants (and losers) of three different games have drawn ire from fans that wish to see other teams given a chance at the game. Obviously difficult to accomplish in warmer climates, the game could still feature a more southern team as the opponent.