RALEIGH, N.C. – As the NHL prepares for their weekend of outdoor games, let’s press the pause button and remember where exactly this outdoor game on Saturday was originally scheduled.
As the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings faced-off in last year’s Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series game, it was announced the Carolina Hurricanes would host the Washington Capitals in the 2021 Stadium Series game.
Last year’s game was held at the prestigious Air Force Academy in Colorado and the 2021 Stadium Series was scheduled to be played at Carter-Finley Stadium, home of the NC State Wolfpack football team.
February 20, 2021. Why does this date sound familiar? This was the date pegged for Raleigh’s first outdoor NHL game, a proud spectacle for any team, fanbase, and community. Fans circled this date on their calendars, made travel arrangements, and perhaps even bought new sweaters for such an occasion.
Then came the stoppage in play just weeks later due to COVID.
As the league scrambled to put together a playoff format, the hopes of an outdoor game for 2021 in Raleigh still lingered, if only in the fans’ eye. October 24, 2020, it was announced the Winter Classic in Minnesota and All-Star weekend in Florida were cancelled. On Dec 23, 2020, the NHL announced the 2021 Stadium Series game would be postponed.
“Well, I guess there will be no outdoor games this year…”. Or will there?
On January 11, news about the outdoor slate for the 2021 season was released. Saturday, February 20, and Sunday, February 21 in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe, North Carolina? Weren’t the Canes hosting a game on that same day, February 20?
“This doesn’t seem right. Well, we can watch the Hurricanes play a game in Nevada, I guess.”
What was scheduled as an outdoor game for Raleigh took a left in Albuquerque and found its way to Nevada…without the Hurricanes being invited. Last year’s losing team, the Avalanche are invited back to play the Vegas Golden Knights. On Sunday, February 21, another Hurricanes rival, the Boston Bruins are playing the Philadelphia Flyers.
To recap: The NHL gave Raleigh an outdoor game, only to cancel both 2021 outdoor games due to COVID and schedule realignments. Once the 2021 season schedule was finalized, not only were outdoor games reinstated, but the league also relocated both games to Nevada where neither of the originally scheduled teams are playing.
Enjoy the outdoor games this weekend, and hopefully, we’ll see you in Raleigh next year!