It’s important that the NHL tried Lake Tahoe, even if it didn’t work

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NHL’s Lake Tahoe compound.

NHL’s Lake Tahoe compound.
Photo: Getty Images

It’s always funny, and easy, to laugh at the NHL and their constant failed plans. No league can step on a rake as quickly and thoroughly as this one. And there’s something truly symmetrical about Gary Bettman declaring the sun his enemy. But their “ski weekend” in Lake Tahoe was probably still worth it. I think.

Sure, there are some obvious questions, but they have obvious answers. There was always risk in starting the Avalanche-Knights game at noon local time. You’re basically hoping for the weather to cooperate, which it never does. And Bettman is the last commissioner who would figure out how to control the weather anyway (Jerry Jones will, if he hasn’t already, and then make Goodell take the blame when it goes wrong) Perhaps some sort of canopy over the rink would have saved them. But that would cut out the possibility of pictures like this:

And the pictures and vistas were the whole point. With this season being entirely a made-for-TV event, it was worth a shot to turn a couple of games in the middle of the season that would normally just disappear into the ether without notice into an occasion that might get the sports world to notice. And thanks to NBC enforcing keeping hockey coverage in certain windows, there wasn’t much choice. A primetime game would have made more sense, but the NHL and NBC just don’t do that. The Flyers-Bruins one dropped the puck at that time, and while gorgeous, the low angle of the sun made seeing the puck nearly impossible for some.

But they did get some of this::

That’s certainly something we’ve not seen for an NHL game before. Or really any sport. And it wouldn’t happen in any other season.

What the actual benefit of all this is, I don’t know. Will it get the league more ratings in the future? Hard to make that connection. Did it get the league into the conversation more and higher on the pole than it would normally be? Probably.

At the end of the day, it was a cool idea that needed a bit of luck to come off without a hitch that it didn’t get it. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a cool idea. And we spend most of our time screaming about how the NHL is never out of the box with its thinking. It doesn’t always work. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth trying.

Of course, this being the NHL, they couldn’t help but throw up all over itself at some point when it didn’t need to. The broadcast of the Flyers-Bruins game took time out to tell everyone that both Dan Quinn and Mario Lemieux had won the American Century Championship on the golf course on which the rink was installed.

What no one on NBCSN took the time to research, or did and didn’t care, is that Lemieux and Quinn are linked because Lemieux was in the room while Quinn allegedly raped a 19-year-old girl. Probably not the type of thing you’d want to come close to linking on your national TV broadcast, but that would involve anyone doing the least bit of homework. Don’t sit on a hot stove waiting for that to happen.

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