Is Lake Tahoe Sharks territory?
Not next month, anyway.
The NHL is planning to hold two outdoor games at Lake Tahoe in February, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet in Canada, and the San Jose Sharks — the closest team to the Tahoe area in terms of geography — will reportedly not be a part of either game.
The Vegas Golden Knights will play the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 20. The next day, the Philadelphia Flyers will host the Boston Bruins. The games will reportedly be part of the NHL’s “Outdoor Weekend” and be televised by NBC. This will be the first outdoor game for the Golden Knights, who entered the NHL for the 2017-2018 season.
According to Friedman, a rink will be built around the picturesque 16th, 17th and 18th holes on the golf course at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nev. The course annually hosts the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament, which has featured past and present NHL players like Wayne Gretzky and Joe Pavelski.
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No spectators will be allowed to attend the games, according to the report, which also mentions that while this is a one-off event for now, the NHL may consider doing more of these games at scenic locations in the future.
The Sharks are scheduled to be in St. Louis to play the Blues on Feb. 20. They are then slated to have a five-day break before they are scheduled to be the home team for two more games against the Blues on Feb. 26 and 27.
Because of the uncertainties surrounding their schedule this season, the Sharks did not have discussions with the NHL about this particular game in Lake Tahoe, according to a team spokesman, who added that the organization would enjoy being a part of something similar in the future.
The Sharks right now are also not considered one of the NHL’s marquee teams, both in terms of their expectations for this season and the breadth of their television audience.
While the cities of Philadelphia and Boston have no geographic ties to Lake Tahoe, they would likely bring a more sizeable television audience to the game than the Sharks. Vegas and Colorado are expected to be at the top of the newly realigned West Division, while the Sharks are projected to finish in the middle or near the bottom.
The Sharks’ first home game this season is scheduled for Feb. 1 against the Golden Knights, but as of now, it is unclear whether the Sharks will be able to play home games at SAP Center.
Santa Clara County’s ban on contact sports — and its mandatory 10-day quarantine for anyone entering the county from more than 150 miles away — is in effect until at least Jan. 8 and could be extended further into the month. Stateline, Nev. is roughly 200 miles away from the county’s border.
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The Sharks’ schedule is backloaded with home games, a request they made to the NHL to allow themselves a better opportunity to play at SAP Center. After playing 14 of their first 18 games on the road, the Sharks play 24 of their final 36 games at home.
The Sharks have played in one outdoor game in their history. As part of the NHL’s Stadium Series, the Sharks hosted the Los Angeles Kings in Feb. 2015 in front of an announced crowd of 70,205 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
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