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Keeler: Gary Bettman wants you to play outside, Avalanche? After Saturday’s fiasco in Lake Tahoe, just say no.

Cripes, even the sun hates Gary Bettman.

“Sunshine,” the NHL commissioner said incredulously on NBC Saturday as the Avalanche and Golden Knights embarked on the longest intermission in league history, “has always been our enemy.”

Ah yes. The NHL rogues’ gallery: Sunshine, logic and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Hey, Gary. Come here. See that shiny thing in the sky? The big yellow one? Looks like the front of a Raisin Bran box?

At high noon, on a clear day — deep breath, now — it melts ice at elevation.

I mean, who knew?

“Some spots on the ice (were) a little bit slushy,” Avs captain Gabe Landeskog told NBC after the Colorado-Vegas tilt in splendorous Lake Tahoe, with his squad up 1-0, got suspended because of a melting rink. “But we were ready to go back. Or whenever they called us back. And we kind of wanted to go back out.”

They wanted this over and done with. Do you blame them? Last year, traffic. This year, sun.

The next time Bettman asks the Avs to play outdoors, they should take a nice, long, hard pass. The next time Gary pulls up in the clown car, let some other tool sheds ride shotgun.

“The cloud cover,” Bettman remarked, eyes skyward, as announcers Mike Tirico and Eddie Olcyzk watched uncomfortably, “is everywhere but where the sun is.”

Again: Who knew?

Stay away, Avs.

Stay far away.

Look, the NHL did the right thing. Eventually. During warm-ups, Avs goalie Philipp Grubauer sported shades underneath his cage. Once the players made it clear that they couldn’t see the puck on the ice, we should’ve seen this coming.

And because sunshine is Bettman’s personal kryptonite, things only got worse once the biscuit dropped. During any break in the action, crews scrambled to shave away ice that looked like the refuse from a snow cone maker.

Players and refs struggled mightily to keep their footing, especially around the logos. The surface looked lumpy, forcing the puck to skip the way a flat stone, thrown just right, does across a pond.

Landeskog and the Avs took advantage of the goofy conditions first, as Sam Girard’s wrister took a funny hop through Marc-Andre Fleury’s five hole about 2:58 into the contest.

The rest of the opening period felt wonky and cautious for both sides as the sun — Curse you, science! Blast you, solar radiation! — continued to beat down. The visits from the maintenance crews became more frequent. And panicked.

“We’ve always had a protocol if we completed two periods,” Bettman would later explain to NBC. “I never envisioned it on a sunny day.”

AP21051801245890 - Keeler: Gary Bettman wants you to play outside, Avalanche? After Saturday’s fiasco in Lake Tahoe, just say no.
Rich Pedroncelli, The Associated Press

A Zamboni machine leaves the outdoor rink where the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche will play in the Outdoor Lake Tahoe NHL hockey game at Stateline, Nev., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.

A sunny afternoon in Tahoe?

What are the odds of that?

“This has been the most difficult weather circumstance we’ve had,” Bettman continued. “And it’s a beautiful day.”

Baseball: Rain delays.

Bettman: Sun delays.

Stay away, Avs.

Stay far away.

When taking a nationally televised party into Mother Nature, especially Mother Nature at 6,224 feet — the altitude at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort — common sense suggests planning for any condition. Any circumstance. You’re proactive. You don’t the let conditions dictate the terms. You don’t point fingers at the big ball in the sky.

“You can’t have success,” Bettman said, “if you don’t risk failure.”

You can’t have ice if you don’t know how to read a weather forecast. If Bettman was a wedding planner, he’d probably book the lip of Mount Vesuvius. Italy, ya know. The views!

“It’ll be one to remember,” Landeskog offered, diplomatically. “That’s for sure.”

Stay away, Avs.

Stay far away.

“We knew,” the commish stressed, “that unabated sunshine was a problem.”

Just not the only one. Yes, suspending play was the only prudent option, given the alternative of twisted knees, shredded ankles and litigation.

But when your second response is shaking a fist at the sky because you didn’t anticipate sunshine at Lake Tahoe, that says a heck of lot less about what’s between the clouds. And more about what’s between your ears.

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