LAKE LOUISE – Buzz surrounding an NHL game being considered at Lake Louise this season was more than a simple rumour, according to an NHL representative.
The NHL's latest outdoor games took place last weekend at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. On Saturday (Feb. 20), the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Las Vegas Golden Knights 3-2, and on Sunday (Feb. 21), the Boston Bruins lit up the Philadelphia Flyers 7-3.
Aside from a few setbacks, many raved about the fantastic mountain scenery surrounding the rink at the golf course, which prompted Canadians to go online and express a shared desire about an outdoor game at Lake Louise, which was rumoured to host one this season.
After all, a Battle of Alberta taking place at one of the country's iconic gemstones is an easy sell.
According to an NHL representative, a game at Lake Louise had a bigger push behind the scenes.
In an interview with USA Today, NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer said the iconic Lake Louise was the league's first choice to host an outdoor game this season, but "local restrictions regarding construction and signage" made it impossible to host at the tourism Mecca.
“It really does come down to showing a Bridgestone logo or a Honda logo. We wouldn’t have been able to do that at all at Lake Louise … but it was the impetus to say, ‘OK, it doesn’t work here, but it will work somewhere else,' " said Mayer to USA Today's Chris Bumbaca in the Feb. 18 article.
According to the article, a group that didn't involve Mayer scouted the location last October in Banff National Park, about 180 kilometres west of Calgary, which becomes a haven for ice skaters and pick-up hockey when the lake freezes over.
Sportsnet's Chris Johnston seemingly backed up the claims during Hockey Night in Canada's Headlines segment, later transcribed on Sportsnet.
"One thing that kept that from happening originally was there wasn't an ability to market on the ice — there was restrictions from the government about ads and things like that. But don't be surprised if we see them revisit that come the future," Johnston said on Saturday.
The Outlook reached out to the NHL about Mayer's comments, but did not receive a response before publication deadlines.
However, Mayer's comments to the U.S. media giant are contradictory to what local organizations have formally said.
Improvement District 9 and Banff and Lake Louise Tourism said they weren't approached by the NHL, and in an emailed response from Parks Canada, the federal organization that manages national parks and historic sites stated a formal proposal was never received regarding an NHL game in Banff National Park.
"As no proposal was received, Parks Canada did not make any determinations about whether or not this event could occur in a national park," the statement said.
To host special events in Banff National Park, there are requirements such as event sponsors (advertisers) "must align with the priorities and mandate of Banff National Park and Parks Canada" and minimizing "disturbance and potential conflicts between wildlife and people."
According to Parks Canada's website, location for special events factors in as well.
The surface of Lake Louise is inside the Land Use Zoning map's Zone 2 area, which is a no-event-zone. Most of the national park falls under the not permitted for events zone.
However, sporting events have occurred on the famous lake, such as the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise run pond hockey classic, which sees over 20 teams signing up for the multiple-day tournament.
There was no mention in the article on whether Lake Louise, or the Bow Valley, as a potential destination for an outdoor game in the future.