In what can only be described as a tumultuous off-season for the Devils, there was a much welcomed positive moment on Thursday from Yankee Stadium. Bryce Salvador and Andy Greene were on hand at the ballpark for the announcement of the upcoming 2014 NHL Stadium Series games to be played at the iconic Bronx venue.
Both players are excited to be playing in the first outdoor game in Devils history, as it adds yet another great chapter to the Devils-Rangers rivalry.
"its going to be one of those experiences that you'll remember forever and the history here, you hear all the stories, and to actually say that you played inside Yankee Stadium is one of those things that you'll definitely remember," said the Devils Captain. "It's such a great experience for the fans and the organizations that they're putting this all together, that it's one of those things you just feel fortunate to be a part of. "
"It's one of those great experiences and you can already tell because all of the requests i'm already getting for tickets. People want to come in, and I think it was even more [ticket requests] than the Stanley cup," joked the defenseman.
Salvador, who grew up in Manitoba, has fond memories of playing outdoors as a child. "From my house, the rink was a block away and I would put the skates on inside my house and we didn't have skate guards back then, so i'd walk down the cement and usually there was enough snow on the ground and enough ice that I could skate down the sidewalks and skate down the roads and we'd play when the lights were on and when the lights were off, my parents said I had to come home."
Outdoor hockey continues to be an integral part of the development of many NHL players, as those who came from snowy climates had the ability to play on frozen ponds and lakes during the winter months. For players, it's a tremendous opportunity to play outside once again.
"We're looking forward to it, it's going to be a fun experience, and having the chance to watch a few of the winter classic games, you can always see the energy and feel the energy through the TV, so it's going to be a great time and a lot of fun," said Greene.
Greene, who grew up in Michigan, the site of this year's Winter Classic at the University of Michigan football stadium, grew up playing baseball as well. "I played all the way up to my junior year of high school, I was center field and shortstop," said Greene, about his time playing baseball. "I mostly hit for base hits, but hit a few home runs, I wasn't much of a home run hitter, but I could get my way around."
Both players spoke of the expected intensity between the two rivals, with 50,000-plus fans expected to be in attendance for the January 26, 2014 game, it should bring a whole different level of excitement to the game.
"I think it's just another story in the chapter, it's been a great rivalry between the Devils and the Rangers and it's always exciting, so it's an honor to be a part of it," said Salvador.
Andy Greene echoed that sentiment as well. "It's always a heated rivalry, it doesn't matter whats going on with either of our respective seasons, it's always a very heated game and it should be even more [heated]."
Up next for the team is training camp, which will begin in September. Camp will be a welcomed respite from the constant stream of bad news this offseason, from the losses of David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk, to the current ownership issues. Despite all of that, Bryce Salvador is already looking forward to the beginning of the season.
"Obviously we lost some great players and great teammates, but Lou did a great job of filling those holes. It's just exciting because we know we're going to be competitive."
- Andy Greene was wearing an "A" on his jersey during the event. Nothing has said by the team yet as to if Greene will be wearing the letter during the upcoming season.
- The rink is going to be set up so that both of the ends will be along the first and third base lines.
- The games will take place during a very busy time for the New York City area. The Super Bowl will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on February 2, 2014.
- When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was asked about reports that the NHL was taking over control of the team, his response was firm. "The NHL isn't taking over the Devils. Just because there are reports, doesn't mean they're true"