Winter Classic Set For Citi Field With Sabres Hosting Rangers On Jan. 1
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman last night formally announced Citi Field will host the Rangers-Sabres Winter Classic on Jan. 1. Appearing on NBCSN during Senators-Rangers Game 6 at MSG, Bettman noted the two teams have an "intra-state rivalry ... and doesn't New Year's start here in Times Square?" He noted the 10th anniversary of the game "appropriately enough" will include the Sabres, who played the Penguins in the first Winter Classic in '08. Bettman: "Maybe they'll bring some snow with them." Newsday first reported the news in March ("Senators-Rangers" NBCSN, 5/9). In Buffalo, John Vogl reports the Sabres will be considered the home team despite the game being played in N.Y. because the Rangers are "required to play all their home games" at MSG. The Rangers, like the Sabres, have "appeared in one Winter Classic," as they played the Flyers at Citizens Bank Park in '12. The team also has "played outside on two other occasions," playing the Islanders and Devils at Yankee Stadium in '14 (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/10). YAHOO SPORTS' Sean Leahy wrote including the Sabres in the Winter Classic is a "wise decision for NBC." The Blackhawks-Blues Winter Classic at Busch Stadium last January "delivered the smallest audience for a Winter Classic on the network." Ratings of the "major NHL events in any given year" show Buffalo is a "city that always posts strong numbers" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/9).
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: In Newark, Abbey Mastracco notes the choice of the Rangers and Sabres "wasn't a popular one with Mets' fans." The Islanders have a "large fanbase" in Queens, and fans of the team teams were "hoping for crosstown showdown or at least more of a local presence." While the Sabres were "chosen because of the 10-year anniversary of the event, Islanders and even Devils fans were hoping for more of a local feel to the game" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/10). Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have appeared in three Winter Classics and two NHL Stadium Series games, and Yahoo Sports' Greg Wyshynski joked, "So are the Chicago Blackhawks singing the anthem at the Citi Field Winter Classic? Not sure about this 'non-Blackhawks outdoor game' thing" (TWITTER.com, 5/10).