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The History of the Stadium Series in the NHL

Photo Courtesy Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In the middle of February, when most places in the US and Canada are winter wonderlands, the NHL decides to do a special event. A weekend or two after the glitz and glamor of the All-Star Weekend, the NHL puts a classic spin on childhood memories of outdoor hockey on the pond; the Stadium Series. 

One, two or three times a year, football Sunday is replaced with hockey Sunday. 

The Stadium Series is an outdoor event different from the NHL Winter Classic and the NHL Heritage Classic. Each year since 2014, marking its tenth anniversary this year, the NHL selects three, two, or one team in the NHL to play outdoors. The venues selected are either football or baseball, due to their mass size, held outside the cities. In the eleven times the stadium series has been held, four have been held in Division One stadiums, with the 2025 Stadium Series hosting the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets at the Ohio State Buckeyes arena. 

In 2016, the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks game held at Soldier Field held over 62,921. At MetLife Stadium, 79,690 people attended a matchup between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, resulting in a new attendance record). For each city picked, the teams are usually historic rivals, and the venues show the respective team city’s culture, from music to sports. 

Photo Courtesy Gazette file photo

Each year, cities go all out for this event. Not only is it an economic opportunity and a tourist trap, but it also brings out the love of hockey across each state. Out of the eleven games held, most in the Northeastern US and Canada, they bring out a diverse range of hockey fans. Celebrities and musicians will all attend for the outdoor spectacle of the year. 

The three teams that have played the most games are the New York Rangers (5-5), the Pittsburgh Penguins (3-1), and the Los Angeles Kings (2-3). As of 2024, the New York Rangers hold the most wins in the Stadium Series. 

Photo Courtesy Instagram

Every year, the Stadium Series focuses on two things: memory and nostalgia. Ice hockey originated in the cold, harsh outdoors, with small ponds used to play games. From the beanies to the warm black turtlenecks to the black face paint, the NHL brings back the classic history of hockey. The designed uniforms take a modern spin on vintage hockey uniforms. Throwback jerseys are used, but each year, a new twist is always added, especially for the returning teams. 

While hockey is the spectacle, other forms of entertainment come on the weekend in music and sports; athletes, artists and bands will show up for the weekend. The performers so far have consisted of Andy Grammer, The Fray, Jack Owen, The Jonas Brothers and AJR. Football teams will also attend the event to support their fellow athletes. 

The 2024 Stadium Series was a record-breaker, not only in attendance, but in the game. MetLife saw back-to-back record-breakers in attendance and play. The New Jersey Devils struck down the Flyers, though it seemed like the latter would win. Despite a two-point lead from the Islanders in the third period, the Rangers scored two points in the last five minutes, with Artemi Panarin securing the win for the Rangers in the first ten seconds of OT. Truly, it was a historic weekend. 

The Next Stadium Series will be held at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, with the Columbus Blue Jackets hosting the St. Louis Blues, time TBA. 

Edited by: Lily Hayes

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