After postponing the Winter Classic and Stadium Series months ago, the NHL announced today that there will in fact be two outdoor games played this year. But, instead of playing them in a baseball or football stadium, they’ll take place at Lake Tahoe. Here’s everything you need to know about this incredible-sounding “Outdoor Showcase.”
Since Lake Tahoe doesn’t freeze over, the games will occur at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort. If that name rings a bell, it’s because the resort also hosts an annual celebrity golf tournament. Specifically, the rink will be built around the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes. Since these holes all sit right alongside Lake Tahoe, it makes the most sense to build the rink there. The showcase will feature the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche, and Vegas Golden Knights. It will take place from February 20th-21st. More specifically, the Avalanche and Knights will play each other on the 20th, while the Bruins and Flyers will face off on the 21st.
Unsurprisingly, there will be no fans in attendance at this game. However, this will give NBC several different opportunities to make these broadcasts unique. Rumor has it that one thing they’ll be doing to change it up is drone cameras, which should be interesting.
From what I saw, most fans were excited about this. However, there will always be some who aren’t happy. This included those who think all outdoor games are stupid, those who are concerned about safety, as well as the ones who are angry over the teams involved. In particular, I saw many fans of California teams upset that they would not be playing.
This is unsurprising given Lake Tahoe is on the border of California and Nevada. While I understand their frustration to a point, looking at this from the league’s point of view, it doesn’t make sense to include any of those teams. To be frank, they all suck. A big reason for this event is for the NHL to recoup some of the revenue they’ll be losing. Including a team that not many people want to watch is not a good way to do that. So, it doesn’t make sense for them.
The Avalanche and Knights are easily the best two teams in the West. On top of that, they are extremely popular. So, they’ll bring in massive ratings, which leads to more money. A similar sentiment is true for the Flyers and Bruins, in that while they are not clearly the best two teams in the East, they are incredibly popular, and will bring in huge ratings as well. So, picking these four teams makes a ton of sense from a money standpoint.
From a safety standpoint, this will be the only game these four teams play in six days. There will surely be extra precautions taken as well. This will likely including making it a mini-bubble and housing at least the eastern and western teams separately. So, this doesn’t really create an increased safety risk. Lastly, to quiet those who say if they’re fine doing this, why re-align the divisions at all, we’re talking taking just moving two teams across the country once to play each other. On the other hand, not re-aligning the division would’ve seen every team travel all over the country and into Canada multiple times to play teams from different areas. So, this is not even remotely close to being the same thing.
I’m incredibly excited about this event, and not just because the Bruins are in it (although that certainly adds to my excitement). Unlike those who hate them because they’re gimmicky, I love outdoor games because they’re a novelty in the best possible way. Hockey originated as an outdoor sport, so I love seeing the NHL go back outside for a couple of games a year. It’s just such a special feeling watching those games.
On top of that, seeing them play at Lake Tahoe is going to be so much better than seeing them play in a stadium. It’ll be absolutely stunning. While it’s only a one-time thing right now, I hope it becomes a regular occurrence if it goes well! So yeah, you can say I’m a little excited for February. Hopefully, everything goes smoothly in terms of both getting there, playing, and then after! If so, this has the potential to be one of the best events the NHL has put on in a very long time. The only thing that would make it better is if there wasn’t a pandemic and fans could be there!
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of sportsnet.ca.