The NHL ice hockey league has detailed plans to stage two outdoor games at Lake Tahoe, Nevada next month.
NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe will see the Colorado Avalanche take on the Vegas Golden Knights on February 20, with the Philadelphia Flyers to face off against the Boston Bruins the following day.
The new event, which will be held without spectators, continues the NHL’s tradition of staging outdoor games. This year’s edition of the league’s Winter Classic event, which is traditionally played at an outdoor stadium, was postponed when it became clear that fans would not be permitted.
The Lake Tahoe event will once again see NHL players take to the ice outdoors, albeit without fans in attendance. The games will mark the 31st and 32nd NHL fixtures to be played outdoors since 2003.
The rink for NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe will be located on the lakefront 18th fairway of the golf course at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort. The four participating teams will each wear authentic Reverse Retro jerseys for the event to represent unique and memorable moments in their history.
The event will mark the Golden Knights’ first-ever regular-season outdoor game. The Avalanche previously played in the 2016 NHL Stadium Series, while the Bruins and Flyers have played outdoors three and four times, respectively.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said: “We are delighted to announce the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe and can’t wait to get on site for what undoubtedly will be two thrilling games in a breathtaking setting.
“Ever since we began staging outdoor games in 2003 and made it a regular feature of our annual schedule in 2008, we have considered myriad non-stadium settings, but they always were rendered impractical because of the sheer volume of demand from our fans to attend.
“This season, unable to host our usual huge crowds at such events, we will continue our tradition of taking the game and our players back to their outdoor roots when the Avalanche meet the Golden Knights and the Bruins face the Flyers on an open-air rink at the spectacular Edgewood Tahoe Resort.”
Carol Chaplin, president and chief executive of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, added: “Having the National Hockey League playing at Lake Tahoe highlights the area’s reputation as a leading winter destination and complements the recreational appeal with a major sporting attraction.
“Combining Tahoe South’s spectacular beauty with the best hockey players in the world is a natural fit and will create a television viewing experience that can’t be missed.”
A shortened NHL season gets underway tomorrow (Wednesday) and Bettman has been discussing the challenges of staging games amid the ongoing difficulties posed by COVID-19.
“Let me make something really clear: We’re coming back to play this season because we think it’s important for the game, because our fans and our players want us to, and it may give people, particularly those who are back in isolation or where there are curfews, a sense of normalcy and something to do,” Bettman said.
“It would be cheaper for us to shut the doors and not play. We are going to run through more money – or (to) say it differently, lose more money at the club level and at the league level – by playing than by not playing. But the owners unanimously are OK with that because they know how important it is for our fans and for the game.”
Bettman added: “In order for us to get through the season, we understand that there is an element of risk, that COVID-19 may impact one or more games. We also understand as we have throughout that in order to accomplish our goal, we’re going to need to be flexible and agile in how we deal with whatever we’re confronted with, and we are again prepared to do that.”