The NHL got a valuable lesson in science along the shores of Lake Tahoe on Saturday as its annual outdoor extravaganza was nearly ruined by the midday sun, leading to poor ice conditions, disgruntled players and an eight-delay time.
“The NHL doesn’t understand how the Sun works, it’s so relevant,” Barstool Sports podcast host Dan Katz tweeted after Saturday’s game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights ended. deteriorated into a slippery chaos.
Normally, the NHL hosts one or two games at an outdoor event in January known as the Winter Classic. This year, however, with the event postponed and attendance limited by the pandemic, the league opted to forgo a traditional outdoor arena and instead opted to stage a pair of games in a lakeside town in the Nevada.
Sunday’s game between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers was pushed back five hours so players wouldn’t have to compete in the midday sun, but that wasn’t until after the 1-0 loss of the Golden Knights against the Avalanche was delayed by 8 hours, 7 minutes on Saturday.
Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog slips during Saturday’s game against the Golden Knights
Normally, the NHL hosts one or two games at an outdoor event in January known as the Winter Classic. This year, however, with the event postponed and attendance limited by the pandemic, the league opted to forgo a traditional outdoor arena and instead opted to water a pair of games in a lakeside town in the Nevada.
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp waits for the ice to be repaired in the first period
The Ice Team continues preparations ahead of the “NHL Outdoors At Lake Tahoe” at Edgewood Tahoe Resort on February 19, 2021 in Stateline, Nevada
At one point in Saturday’s match, a player (left) and a referee (right) fell simultaneously
Play was suspended after the first period at 12:55 p.m. local time. Workers covered the ice soon after before removing the cover after sunset. Bettman said some players wanted to continue playing while others didn’t, but the final decision was made in consultation with the union for safety reasons.
“We’ve held over 30 outdoor games,” commissioner Gary Bettman told NBC. “It’s been the toughest weather circumstance we’ve had, and it’s a beautiful day. But if you look at the sun, cloud cover is everywhere except where the sun is, and it did a number on the ice.
Play was suspended after the first period at 12:55 p.m. local time. Workers covered the ice soon after before removing the cover after sunset.
Bettman said some players wanted to continue playing while others didn’t, but the final decision was made in consultation with the union for safety reasons.
“There was a reason they postponed it,” Vegas defender Alec Martinez said. “Obviously they did their best, but the sun was beating down on them too much and melting the ice.” Large chunks have been removed. We obviously didn’t want anyone to get hurt. If large chunks come out of the ice into the cement, these are obviously dangerous playing conditions.
The crews were working on the ice just before the opening face-off and problems arose throughout the period.
“We played in the rain, we played in the snow, but the sun was always our enemy,” Bettman said.
Ice problems have detracted from the spectacular setting of the game, which is played on a makeshift ice rink on the 18th fairway of a Lake Tahoe golf course, with snow-capped mountains in the background.
It snowed overnight and in the morning before the sun came up. While the pristine conditions provided picture-perfect views, it proved to be detrimental to the ice.
The footage from Saturday’s game was breathtaking, but the ice conditions were treacherous
Golden Knights teammates Chandler Stephenson and Reilly Smith leave for warm-up
The Ice Team continues preparations ahead of the ‘NHL Outdoors At Lake Tahoe’ at Edgewood Tahoe Resort on Saturday
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is seen during Game 2 of the NHL Winter Classic
Bruins-Flyers game started at sundown so players don’t have to compete with glare
“Anytime the sun beat down on the ice, it’s really hard to sustain,” Vegas forward Alex Tuch said. “The ice team did an amazing job of trying to keep it going during the day. Rather an impossible task.
The ice was in much better shape overnight for the past two periods.
“The ice was pretty bad and muddy, but we were ready to play,” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “They didn’t want to play, it seems, but we did. Luckily we were able to do that tonight. The ice cream was great.
But the delay hasn’t dented Bettman’s commitment to outdoor games, even in unconventional settings outside of a stadium like Lake Tahoe.
“This game really took gaming back to its roots in terms of the environment,” Bettman said. “Obviously we tried to do something different in an unusual time, to try to give our fans something special. The players were thrilled.
“We will continue to do so, but we have always known and we will know in the future that when you play outside and the ice is important, weather conditions can affect whether or not we can play the game. We’ve been lucky so far and I think we’re all disappointed but the teams have been great.
“And we move on. You can’t succeed if you don’t risk failure.
Bruins mascot, Blades and Flyers mascot Gritty failed to distance himself, but wore masks