Outdoor games have become a staple of the NHL in recent years. Taking advantage of winter months and cold weather, the league has turned the Winter Classic and Stadium Series into their most significant events outside of the Stanley Cup. However, with fans still barred from events in many parts of the world, the NHL is getting creative as it hosts this year’s edition of the outdoor games.
The NHL takes Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe, which stands high above the border between Nevada and California, is a popular winter destination for those who want to spend time in the snow. With boundless slopes, constant snow, and a little bit of something for everyone, the lake is a popular vacation spot among locals and a commonplace for high-profile events.
The NHL games, which are meant to promote the delayed season that starts in mid-January, will take place at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort, details CBS Sports. This resort, which golf fans might recognize as the site of a popular celebrity tournament, will set up ice on the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes of the golf green, will feature four of the league’s top teams.
The Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Nights will face off on February 20 and 21, a month into the regular season that typically begins in October. However, with COVID-19 restrictions, it will not be the fan-filled event it usually is. Instead, it will be a nice distraction from one of the strangest times in sports.
Who will be there? What about COVID-19?
While some states are allowing fans inside of games, reports Sports Net, the organizers of the Tahoe games are not taking any chances. No fans will be permitted at the event, and only 400 people, from players to low-level employees, will be allowed in the vicinity. While the NHL had a successful bubble in Canada, it’s adjusting things for a more extended schedule.
While Canada prohibits teams from going across the border, Canadian teams will form their division and play each other until the league can meet an adjusted schedule. Like the NBA before it, the NHL would struggle to hold a bubble with every team, coach, and employee playing out an entire season. For the Tahoe games, The Golden Knights will face the Avalanche on the first night, while the Bruins will face the Flyers the following day.
Should the outdoor games be a success, the NHL has not dismissed the idea of playing there again with fans in the future. Every sporting league comes with its own set of boundaries, and those who do not have the luxury of one weekly game have to get creative. This is a case of them getting creative while taking precautions over the world’s events.
The NHL season has officially started
The NHL will kick off a 56-game season on January 13. With so much uncertainty going forward, commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead.
“The National Hockey League looks forward to the opening of our 2020-21 season, especially since the Return to Play in 2019-20 was so successful in crowning a Stanley Cup champion. While we are well aware of the challenges ahead, as was the case last spring and summer, we are continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our participants and the communities in which we live and play. And, as was the case last spring and summer, I thank the NHLPA, particularly Executive Director Don Fehr, for working cooperatively with us to get our league back on the ice. (Per NHL.com)
While this last year has taught us that there’s never any certainty in sports, the league’s return will help provide a nice distraction from the world outside. On top of this, the Tahoe games will help give something new to fans starved for a little excitement in a world without the typical crowd.