There have been 30 NHL outdoor games since 2003. Up until now, all but six teams have participated.
Four teams — Boston, Colorado, Philadelphia and Vegas — are headed to Lake Tahoe in February: https://t.co/GDFc633pVD
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 1, 2021
When the Golden Knights face off against the Colorado Avalanche on February 20th, they’ll become the 26th NHL team to skate outdoors. While five other franchises have waited for almost two decades, Vegas will get their opportunity up in Northern Nevada in only their fourth season.
Here’s a cool fact about Lake Tahoe, it never freezes over.
The Lake Tahoe Basin has its share of below-freezing days and nights, but surprisingly enough the Lake itself has never frozen over. On occasion, Emerald Bay has been covered with a layer of ice, and ice also forms in cold protected inlets. However, Lake Tahoe’s great depth and volume of water is always in motion and keeps it from being the world’s largest ice rink. -KeepTahoeBlue.org
Luckily, the league did their research and will avoid any ice cracking disasters. The NHL games will take place at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, NV. It’s reported that an ice sheet will be built around the resorts golf course, however it was unclear exactly where. Will an NHL game be played be on a massive three-hole water hazard?
Many were confused why the NHL would choose the Avalanche over one of the three California teams. I’d imagine there were several reasons, but one would have to be the spotlight factor. Colorado and Vegas are two premier teams in the West division, it allows the league and networks a chance to showcase both clubs. In all likelihood, it could be a playoff series preview. San Jose may be closer to Lake Tahoe, but clearly, the league felt a superior Colorado team would make for a better event.
The Perfect Matchup
Featured games such as the Winter Classic, Heritage Classic, or the Stadium Series are widely watched by fans and exciting for the participating players. Outdoor games tend to bring a playoff-type atmosphere, emotions, and desire to win. Five have ended in overtime and two were decided by shootouts. Playing a team the Golden Knights will likely face in the playoffs could possibly become beneficial, but it also works both ways. Either way, both benches will be highly motivated to win at Lake Tahoe.
Golden Knights Share Spotlight With Contenders
In an imperfect season, the NHL magically added some unexpected out of the box entertainment. By creating the Outdoor Weekend, the league offers fans a small break from watching all 56 games played in empty arenas. By including two East Coast teams, the Tahoe games draw in fans from all four normal divisions. Just like Vegas and Colorado, the game in Northern Nevada could be an important divisional game for Boston and Philadelphia. The event takes place 18 games into the shortened season, roughly 1/3 of the schedule.
The league also deserves credit for the development and production of the two-day event. They chose a majestic location, four Stanley Cup contenders, and the perfect time to do it. Without fans, the league can get creative and test events that fans can attend in the future. Normally, outdoor games would be played in separate locations. This year the league smartly decided to host two games on the same outdoor rink. By adding a second game the league can stretch the normal budget to produce an outdoor event. If the Outdoor Weekend works out, we can expect more mini pond hockey games with fans in attendance.
Golden Knights Faithful
We all agree that it’s exciting news Vegas was selected to play in an outdoor game, but it’s bittersweet without Golden Knights fans in attendance.
This Lake Tahoe outdoor game sounds/looks like it will be incredible, but there's definitely a part of me that feels like it's going to be wrong to see the Golden Knights first outdoor game played without fans allowed near it.
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) January 1, 2021
Fans dream of attending a Winter Classic or outdoor game featuring their favorite team. For Golden Knights fans to miss out on that opportunity is unfortunate.
On February 20th, the Golden Knights will represent our great state 450 miles from Las Vegas. It’s an honor to host an outdoor game and all eyes will be on Nevada. Let’s ignore that 2/3 of Lake Tahoe is in California.