NHL planning outdoor games at Lake Tahoe in February

Lake Tahoe will provide awesome scenery for potentially two outdoor games in February. Vegas and Colorado will face off in the first game, while Boston and Philadelphia will close out the outdoor showcase.

One of the most picturesque locations in the United States will host two NHL games this year in February. Lake Tahoe and its beautiful backdrop will be home to a matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 20, while the Boston Bruins will take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 21.

These games will take place on the lakeshore at Edgewood Tahoe Resort with the lake and snowy mountaintops providing the incredible background.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet was the first to break the news as he noticed an oddity in the NHL on NBC’s broadcast schedule, which is the network's lone Saturday broadcast before April 17. Also, there is a long layoff for the Bruins and Flyers, which is uncommon this season as the league attempts to fit in 56 games between January 13 and May 8.

It has been no secret that the NHL, just like many other leagues, has been reeling financially due to COVID-19 cancellations and the inability to bring spectators into arenas.

The league needed a boost and a creative solution to generate revenue, hence playing hockey with a stunning backdrop that is straight out of a movie or video game.

The NHL will be channeling their inner “Mystery Alaska,” and EA Sports’ outdoor concept in their recent NHL video game installments with this pond hockey type feel.

Although no fans will be allowed to attend the outdoor contests, it will certainly bear attention from people worldwide to tune in as viewers will not only receive some action-packed hockey but will be in awe of the backdrop presented.

This game will allow the league to begin a new outdoor tradition following its dropping numbers in terms of viewership in recent years with outdoor games.

Last year’s Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators drew the fewest viewers in the game’s history with just 1.97 million people tunning in.

Due to the addition of the annual Stadium Series games that began in 2014, the Winter Classic anticipation on New Year’s Day has diminished. The Stadium Series games have also lost their luster over the past few seasons.

With the Winter Classic and the Stadium Series game in Raleigh, North Carolina being canceled this year, it gave the NHL the opportunity to pounce on a location that can host a game without the necessity of fans.

This idea of playing in scenic locations, bringing players back to their roots of playing on frozen lakes and ponds, could be the dawn of a new NHL tradition as the Stadium Series continues to be an average presentation.

Utilizing destinations that have amazing backdrops could be a new route to replace some of the Stadium Series games in the future. Although not many fans, if any, could attend it still would bring in a new level of viewership and income from the broadcast side.

Playing an NHL showcase series at some destination hotspots in the mountains or on lakeshores could also have positive economic impacts on these areas as it would bring in additional tourism thanks to the display on a broadcast, thus keeping this idea open for future reference.

While the beautiful scenery will give fans a reason to tune in, the action on the ice will also be worth someone’s while.

All four teams that will take the ice in late February advanced to the second round in this past season’s extended playoff format.

Colorado and Vegas will be vying for superiority in the new West division as both teams are legitimate cup contenders. The Avalanche has a core that is moving into its prime led by Nathan MacKinnon. On the other hand, Vegas has continually made moves to put itself in a position to make a deep playoff run year after year.

Boston and Philadelphia both have aging cores but are surrounded by young talent especially on the Philadelphia side. This matchup will see two physical and gritty teams travel across the country to perform in a must-watch showcase. This matchup easily can be a preview of a conference finals series showdown in the new revamped playoff format.

It has been a wild ride nonetheless since COVID-19 took over the globe, but sports leagues needed to adapt and overcome these obstacles to ensure an entertainment experience for fans and the livelihoods of the players.

The two outdoor games at Lake Tahoe will be pleasurable for viewers and could begin a new outdoor tradition for the NHL.


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