The House That Tavares Built?


A shot of Yankee Stadium, which will be the Islanders home for one night only. January 29, 2014. Rangers vs Isles.

NEW YORK, NY–So, what we have been hearing for a few months is now finally official: The Islanders and Devils will take on the Rangers in late January at Yankee Stadium. For some reason these are both “away” games for the Rangers, but that’s a story for another day.

The NHL has gone outside the box, so to speak. They realize that everyone wants a piece of the unique outdoor game action, so they now have put a few on the schedule. Okay, more than a few. They have 6, which includes 2 at Yankee Stadium, coupled with the Winter Classic in Detroit, and Ducks versus Kings in LA’s Dodger Stadium. Nothing like shorts and hockey right?

I am interested to see how this will all work. If it’s going to be an Islanders home game, so I wonder if Isles fans will get first crack at tickets. The other big, possibly understated point here is that this is a game on January 29. We are talking about a fierce rivalry game, second half of the season–a regulation win or loss could mean a 4 point swing in an important playoff race matchup.

But most importantly, this game will offer the hockey world another glimpse of the greatness that is John Tavares. We have seen him develop over the past few years, and we have seen him take charge and possibly be the league MVP. We have also now seen him  shine in the playoffs. Although there are more outdoor games this year, and this won’t be as much of a spectacle, it’s still Yankee Stadium, it’s still outdoors, it’s still Rangers/Isles. It’s still special. And it could still be yet another breakout moment for one of the league’s brightest stars.

May 3, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) takes the ice before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in game two of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This matchup will also serve to show how much hockey fans were annoyed after the lockout. Yankee Stadium holds 50,000 people for baseball. How much will it hold for hockey? Can we see 5-10,000 more seats added? Can those seats be filled? Can you imagine 60,000 rabid NY hockey fans cheering for their team? Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.

I always wondered what it would be like to live in a place that cared about the best sport on two feet, hockey, more than say basketball. Although I was alive during the Cup years, I wasn’t old enough to really appreciate their greatness and the media attention they got.

So, because at least for one night, we can pretend that the only thing that matters is New York Islanders hockey. Wait, that IS the only thing that matters!