The Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins played at Fenway Park in Boston on Jan. 1, 2010. The teams will meet again outdoors, but this time it will be on a golf course in Lake Tahoe and without spectators. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

 

The NHL played outdoors in the shadow of the Green Monster at Fenway Park, on consecutive days at Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium, and at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

This year’s outdoor games will be in a unique, picturesque setting: along the shores of Lake Tahoe. The NHL announced Monday it will hold two games on an outdoor rink set up at Edgewood Golf Course in Stateline, Nevada.

Vegas will play Colorado on Feb. 20 and Boston faces Philadelphia on Feb. 21 on a temporary rink set up on the 18th hole at Edgewood, site of the annual American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament.

No fans will be allowed to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the visuals on TV and social media should be spectacular. The Flyers will be playing in their fifth outdoor game while it will be the fourth for the Bruins. The Avalanche have played in three outdoor games, including one at Coors Field in 2016, and Vegas will be playing its first.

The NHL has been conducting outdoor games since 2003 and the two in the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe event will be the 31st and 32nd in the series.

MIKE MILBURY is out and Mike Babcock is in for NBC Sports’ coverage of the NHL this season.

Milbury had been with the network since 2008 after coaching the Bruins and serving as coach and general manager of the Islanders. He stepped away from broadcasting during the 2020 playoffs after drawing widespread criticism for saying players should be more focused in the league’s coronavirus bubble because there were “not even any women here to disrupt your concentration.”

“It’s an unfortunate situation with Mike,” executive producer Sam Flood said Monday. “Mike is a friend. He’s a unique talent, and he’s given a lot to NBC and the NHL over the years. It was time to separate for a number of reasons.”

Asked later for details, Flood declined to elaborate. Milbury’s ouster is the second in less than a year for the NHL on NBC, which parted ways with Jeremy Roenick in February after suspending the former player for making inappropriate comments about coworkers. In a statement, NBC Sports said: “We are grateful to Mike for all of his contributions to our coverage for 14 years, but he will not be returning to our NHL announce team. We wish him well.”

Milbury in August apologized for his on-air remark about women, saying in a statement: “It was not my intention to disrespect anyone. I was trying to be irreverent and took it a step too far. It was a regrettable mistake that I take seriously.”

TAXI SQUADS: The NHL is bracing for bumps as it aims to pull off a season during the pandemic and the hope is that taxi squads will help teams stay on the ice.

The defending Western Conference champion Dallas Stars have already had to postpone their season-opener this week because six players and two staff members tested positive for the coronavirus. The Stars won’t face an opponent earlier than Jan. 19, when they’re currently scheduled to play at Tampa Bay in a Stanley Cup final rematch.

Dallas and every other team will likely lean on taxi squads this season. NHL teams get to have four to six players on taxi squads after they clear waivers, essentially expanding the size of the team beyond the 23-man limit when teams submit their rosters to the league on Tuesday.

Hundreds of players were put on waivers Monday, including Montreal’s Corey Perry and Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson and Luke Schenn. All could now be taxi squad-bound.

“We’re going into unchartered waters with the taxi squad that is in place to try to get us through the season,” Edmonton Oilers General Manager Ken Holland said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “Taxi squads will give us 29 players tested every day, practicing and traveling with us that are eligible to play in games on short notice.”

Players on taxi squads can be put on the active roster as late as 5 p.m. Eastern on a game day, giving clubs a better chance of having four lines, three defensive pairings and two goaltenders even if rosters take a hit because of COVID-19 protocols. Teams must have three goaltenders available among the 29 players.

COYOTES: The Coyotes announced Monday the longtime former captain Shane Doan has been hired as chief hockey development officer.

Doan will serve as a strategic advisor to owner Alex Meruelo and general manager Bill Armstrong, supporting the business and hockey operations departments.

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