The weekend at Lake Tahoe got off to a hot start. Perhaps, too hot though. Following a nice pre-game ceremony that was accompanied by stunning views the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights got ready to faceoff in a one of a kind outdoor game. However, things took a disappointing and surprising turn not long into the first period. Both players and referees jockeyed with the ice to remain upright on their skates. It was clear the sun was playing a major factor in softening up the ice to a point where it became unsafe for all parties involved.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 20, 2021
Both the teams, players, players association, and the NHL decided it was best to postpone the game until later in the evening. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would go on to say the following:
“This has been the most difficult weather circumstance we’ve had, and it’s a beautiful day. But if you look up at the sun, the cloud cover is everywhere but where the sun is, and it did a number on the ice.”
The postponement would later turn into a Midnight start time on the east coast and a 9pm local start time on the west coast. Despite the late start time Gary Bettman was able to make a strong argument towards those on the east coast to stay up late and watch the game stating, “please stay up late, we have lights”. While some east coast residents like myself did stay up, the NHL presumably lost much of its audience due to the schedule change. Those who were able to watch the second and third period were gifted a tight and fast paced game with a beautiful goal from Nathan MacKinnon. The midnight start had a fun feel to it though. While we’ve witness games go long into the night, this was different as it was a regular season game, outdoors, next to a lake.
Nathan MacKinnon outdoor goal is beautiful pic.twitter.com/LhWYX2ucNR
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 21, 2021
Game 2 on Sunday between the Bruins and Flyers however seemed to have worked out like the NHL had envisioned; aside from the score. It was light enough to where you could see the gorgeous views Lake Tahoe had to offer while the ice held up much better as the sun continued to set as the game went on. Eventually the NHL would transition to night hockey again. Although to their credit, despite not having the mountainous views the ice did look nice under the lights.
In the end, the NHL got really creative in finding a way to provide yet another outdoor game, however this time not with fans and in a stadium. The views and atmosphere of the weekend seemed to win over a lot of NHL fans as many have sparked debate over where the NHL should take there next outdoor game.