In's Q&A feature called "Sitting Down with …" we talk to key figures in the game, gaining insight into their lives on and off the ice. Today, we feature former New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter, who attended the 2024 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Mike Richter was proud to witness how far hockey has come in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area at the 2024 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Richter, who won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994, said it was special to see the growing popularity of the NHL in drawing a combined 150,018 for two regular-season games in less than 24 hours at the area’s NFL stadium.

The New Jersey Devils won 6-3 against the Philadelphia Flyers in front of 70,328 fans Saturday, and the Rangers rallied for a 6-5 overtime win against the New York Islanders on Sunday with 79,690 fans in the building.

He said the fact that the gap in skill from the top players to the bottom of rosters around the League has narrowed today, plus the competitive balance of the local teams, each of which is in contention for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, made for an impressive spectacle all weekend.

"The four teams in this area, there are no easy games," Richter said at a meet and greet with and a group of fans who won a local Pepsi contest at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Pepsi Q&A with Mike Richter SS 2

Richter, who ranks sixth all-time among United States-born NHL goalies with 301 wins, said the League's outdoor games always seem to deliver by not only catering to die-hard fans and drawing in new or casual fans but also by bringing back childhood memories for the players involved.

"Almost every player my age, and even guys out there now, grew up playing on the ponds," Richter said. "I grew up in Philadelphia. Martin Brodeur said he had 16 outdoor rinks that were free in Montreal where he grew up. That's how this [event] resonates so much with the players." caught up with Richter to talk about the outdoor game mystique, some of his favorite memories from his 14-season NHL career and his thoughts on the current Rangers team.

How enjoyable is it to experience these outdoor games, especially for an alum who reached the pinnacle of New York hockey?

"The outdoor games were an instant success. I remember watching the first one [2008 NHL Winter Classic] with the snow and [Sidney] Crosby and the shootout winner. Unbelievable events.

"[The NHL and teams] do such a great job on this. It's exciting. I was here at 10 a.m. and the place was buzzing. … New York has that kind of extra energy."

Who were the toughest opponents you faced during your playing career?

"The year we won the Cup, Jersey didn't really have a bad line. They didn't have an explosive offense, but [Brodeur] was in net and they played a great defensive game.

"And then a team like Pittsburgh with [Mario] Lemieux and [Jaromir] Jagr coming up, and then they started filling in with Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson. [Tom] Barrasso was playing great. They were so high-end."

What was your favorite road venue during your playing career?

"The old Chicago Stadium was crazy. They had the organ, you had to walk up stairs to get to the rink. It was old time. When they did the national anthem, you were on the ice and it was vibrating."

What do you remember most about your epic save on Vancouver Canucks forward Pavel Bure's penalty shot during Game 4 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final?

"[Bure] scored so many goals that year. Now he does those promotions or what not where he has to sign [that photo]. He scored [three] times in that series, but that was the one everyone takes pictures of and talks to him about.

"He still was great in that series. I think on that penalty shot he was at the end of a shift; you could see he was exhausted. It was a little easier on me than it was on him."

What impresses you most about the New York Rangers this season?

"They're fun to watch. Incredibly skilled. But these are also good guys. Very committed and likable. It's hard not to root for this team."

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