Ryan McDonagh will play his fifth NHL outdoor game when the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Nashville Predators in the 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on Feb. 26, 2022, and said the experience never gets old.
“I think the crowd just brings such a great atmosphere to the event,” the Lightning defenseman said Wednesday. “(Players) always look for moments throughout the season that kind of rejuvenate or motivate you, give you that extra boost of energy during a long season, and an outdoor game is perfect for that.”
The 2022 NHL Stadium Series will be held at the home of the Tennessee Titans of the NFL. Predators chief executive officer Sean Henry said the event will be “The Smashville Spectacular.” Nissan Stadium (capacity 69,143) will be the eighth football stadium and fifth NFL venue to host an NHL Stadium Series.
“Every time we come to Nashville, we know it’s going to be special and that’s why we’re excited to bring our first outdoor game to Nashville; we will re-imagine this amazing stadium,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “This event will be a week-long celebration and you can expect the entertainment and music community in Nashville to be an integral part of the festivities.
“You combine an outdoor game with the Nashville hospitality and excitement, it’s going to be a great celebration culminating with the game.”
[RELATED: Stadium Series tickets available October 21]
It will be the Predators’ second regular-season outdoor game. They lost the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 4-2 to the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
“I’m fortunate to be part of some amazing events here … the (2016) NHL All-Star Game and when we went to the (2017) Stanley Cup Final and seeing this city rally behind our team is amazing,” Nashville captain Roman Josi said. “The Winter Classic was something you never forget. Those experiences playing outdoor games are unbelievable and to do it at home in Nashville is going to be amazing.
“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of Lightning fans, but I can’t wait to see the stadium in gold, so it’s going to be a really cool experience.”
McDonagh played four outdoor games with the New York Rangers (2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia; two 2014 Stadium Series games at Yankee Stadium; 2018 Winter Classic at Citi Field in Flushing, New York).
“Playing outside definitely makes you feel younger,” McDonagh said. “You remember your days as a kid just playing under the light, under the stars.”
The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning will play their first outdoor game and be the 27th NHL team to participate in one. Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman will play his first in the NHL.
“I think this stadium holds more than the city where I grew up (Ornskoldsvik, Sweden), so it’ll be different than what I experienced as a kid,” Hedman said. “But it brings back all the memories, the people you grew up with, your friends back home. All you wanted to do was play hockey outside in Sweden. We played until dinnertime and then went back out again and that’s where I grew up loving the sport.
“I’ve been with the Lightning for 13 years now and this is going to be one of the highlights for sure.”
Lightning chief executive officer Steve Griggs said fans may consider special shoes for the occasion.
“We’re going to bring all our Bolts Nation and they’re going to change out their flip-flops and wear some cowboy boots for a full week,” he said. “We’re excited about that.”