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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 1:41 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - At the Rink blog

Panthers mull signing of Madden

With seven forwards currently on the injured list, it appears the Florida Panthers are giving serious consideration to bringing in 38-year-old John Madden to shore up their depth.

The Miami Herald's George Richards reported on his Twitter account Thursday that Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said Madden is in Florida to take a physical and continue contract talks.

Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon told the Herald on Wednesday that he and Madden's representative were discussing a deal. The big question was how long it would take Madden to shake off the rust that comes with not having played since the end of last season with the Minnesota Wild.

"John has always been a good skater," Tallon told the Herald. "And he's a pretty solid guy, has been for a long time."

Madden has won three Stanley Cups -- two with the Devils and another in 2010 with the Blackhawks. In 12 NHL seasons, Madden has 345 points in 867 games.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 12:03 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Classic Preparations

College teams get first view of Winter Classic rink

PHILADELPHIA -- While the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers is the prime event for the ice rink being built here at Citizens Bank Park, it's far from the only event.

Representatives from four college teams that will play here after the NHL leaves got their first tour of stadium Wednesday, and walked away highly impressed.

"It's kind of breathtaking," Drexel University coach Greg Marinari told His team will play Villanova University on Jan. 5, one day after Penn State plays Neumann University. "It's very exciting to see all the work they're putting in."

Marinari said he told his players about the game following a game in early December, and said the reaction "was so loud outside the locker room that the parents were asking what the big announcement was."

Bill Downey, Penn State's director of hockey operations, said his players had the same reaction when they learned they would be playing outside at Citizens Bank Park.

"We were actually on a trip down to Liberty University in Virginia, we're on the bus … they were getting all the information from social networking, via Twitter and Facebook," Downey told, "so we could hear them start rumbling in the back of the bus. We didn't want to tell them until the end of the weekend, but in this day and age, that stuff comes out pretty quickly. They were thrilled. I know they couldn't be more excited to play in the game."

The game will be a boon for PSU, which moves from a non-varsity team to NCAA Division I next season. Currently, PSU plays as an independent in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, before joining the new Big Ten conference in 2013-14.

"To have an opportunity for our school to come play here, it's going to mean so much to the players moving forward, as a memory for them," said Downey. "I couldn't be more happy for the players, and for the program it's such a step in the right direction."

Downey said he was in Pittsburgh last year for the 2011 Winter Classic, and has talked to people from other college and NHL teams that have played outside for advice. What they've told him is that there's not a lot, really, you can plan for in advance.

"We've been talking to a bunch of people, trying to figure some things out," he said. "It's such a crapshoot with what the weather is going to be like. You can plan for a thousand things, but you might drive yourself crazy doing that. When the day comes, we'll be ready to go and be mentally focused.

"I think the biggest thing is to try and eliminate some of the awe factor of walking into a venue like this and just allowing them to play a game as normally as possible. They're all going to be excited and just having them prepare and be ready mentally to play the game is most important."

Marinari said he's gotten the same advice for when his team faces Villanova in another chapter in their area rivalry -- both are members of the ACHA Eastern College Hockey Association.

"You're still putting on your skates, you're still putting on your pads," he said. "Maybe now you're putting an extra layer underneath, but you're still playing a hockey game.

"It's very exciting. I cannot wait."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 2:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Classic Preparations

The work goes on

PHILADELPHIA -- Rain fell here at Citizens Bank Park, but outside the stadium, it didn't slow the work being done in building Spectator Plaza.

Citizens Bank Way, the street which runs the length of the stadium from home plate to the back of the left-field seating area, was closed off to traffic and more than a half-dozen tents were put up on the first day of the build-out for the fan fun area.

"It shouldn't affect us too much," NHL Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli told "We're expecting about an inch of rain today, but we got a lot of stuff done this morning and then we'll start to move inside and do the things we need to do to stay dry.

"It'll probably hold us up a bit, but a lot of tenting is going up, so once they get one up they'll stay dry as best as they can and then we'll just keep moving. I don't anticipate it'll put us that far behind. We have time built in to catch up."

Among the highlights will be a Molson Hockey House, as well a giant video screen, NHL Network broadcast platform, interactive sponsor tents, food and beverage spots and what Renzulli called, "just a tailgate party."

Spectator Plaza opens at 9 a.m. on Jan. 31, and will be open Jan. 1 and Jan. 2, right up to puck drop between the Flyers and Rangers.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 4:54 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Classic Preparations

Work shifts to auxiliary rink

PHILADELPHIA -- The NHL ice crew has moved their activity -- for a little while -- to the Winter Classic auxiliary rink.

Members of the Wells Fargo ice crew spent part of the day slushing in the gaps between the ice trays, and about 4:45 p.m. the hose was turned on.

The goal is to build an inch of ice on the auxiliary rink, which in years past has been used by youth players from the towns of the teams playing in the Winter Classic.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 2:42 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Classic Preparations

Renzulli keeping things on track

PHILADELPHIA -- Seated in his temporary office here at Citizens Bank Park on Monday morning, NHL Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli said he isn't letting the excitement of what will happen in just seven days affect him.

With just a week remaining until they drop the puck for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Renzulli is more focused on keeping the train on the tracks.

"Excitement? No," he told "Part of this is just being able to maintain and keep the build going and make sure you get everything done. The excitement comes when you start to bring people into the ballpark and they start to at least see what's going on and what it took to get there."

What they'll start seeing over the next few days will be pretty impressive.

The biggest attraction will be the Spectator Plaza, which will be constructed on Citizens Bank Way, adjacent to the stadium. With crews arriving from holiday break today, work will start tomorrow despite the rain being forecast for the Philadelphia region.

Renzulli said 10 different sponsors will have interactive areas for fans, with the centerpiece being Molson Hockey House.

"It's a scaled-down version of what they did at the (2010 Winter) Olympics, similar to what they did at (NHL) Faceoff in Winnipeg this year," Renzulli said. "Which is really a kind of a sports bar. … It's a big bar, but they integrate other things in the tent."

There also will be a giant video board, NHL Network will be broadcasting from the plaza, and there will be live music, including a performance by The Zoo, winner of MTV's Ultimate Cover Band contest.

"We do a lot of photo ops outside," Renzulli said. "They'll have a lot of branding of the game. It's not much different than what we've had in the past. There's food and beverages, there'll be sampling of the products of our sponsors. Then it's just a tailgate party."

Work also will continue on turning the inside of the baseball stadium into an outdoor hockey wonderland, from hanging signs and installing décor on field walls and gates, and much more.

The work will continue over the next few days, and besides tomorrow's rain, the forecast looks pretty good right through the game on Jan. 2.

"It's not much different than we've been seeing all along," Renzulli said. "It's mid-to-upper 20s and 30s at night and up into the mid-to-upper 40s during the day. Slight chance of rain or snow shower on the 31st, but with temperatures in the mid-to-low 40s I don't really see that becoming snow. If it does, it's not going to stick. Winds are pretty constant between five and 20 (mph) throughout that time, it just depends on when. Right now they're calling on game-day as mostly cloudy, chance for light rain or snow showers late. So I would anticipate we're not going to see much (precipitation) during the game. Highs in the mid-to-upper 40s, lows in the low 30s, it's overcast, won't have the sun to contend with. Might be a little bit warmer for the fans than it has been at other games, (but) you deal with it."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:42 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Classic Preparations

More than slush being done

PHILADELPHIA -- Workers spent the day installing a viewing stage around the rink, giving it a more elevated look. The entrance for the Zamboni was finished -- the doors were installed and the ramp for its path onto the ice was built. The platforms for the NBC and CBC broadcast crew were finished in short center field. And just now, the player benches were brought out and sent into place.

And since this is a Flyers-Rangers game, maybe one of the most important aspects of the rink was built -- the penalty boxes.

If all goes to plan, the next addition to the rink will be water, and when everyone returns from the holiday weekend, we might see some ice on the rink.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Classic Preparations

Eye on the Ice an important tool for Craig

PHILADELPHIA -- While the big story of the day is the slush that's being laid down in the gaps under the boards and between the ice panels, another item made its way onto the Winter Classic rink surface.

Two thin cables were laid on opposite ends of the ice, each with a small temperature gauge at the end of it. Called Eye on the Ice, the gauges relay vital, real-time information to NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig.

"(Eye on the Ice) is a monitoring system we have that will tell us the temperature on the panels themselves," Craig told "Once we build an inch of ice we'll put another cable in which will give us the temperature an inch off the panel, and then I'll walk around with an a hand-held infrared gun for temperature. It gives us all three parameters of what it is in the ice surface."

Eye on the Ice is important for Craig, who can monitor the rink surface 24 hours a day, either from on-site or a remote location. With that information, Craig or his crew can adjust the temperature on the panels and create the perfect situation for making ice.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 11:25 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Classic Preparations

We're going slushing!

PHILADELPHIA -- When work is being done on the rink being built for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, you can be sure to find NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig hovering somewhere nearby, keeping a close watch on things.

Today, for the first time during working hours, Craig will leave the ballpark.

No, he's not getting an early start to his holiday break. He and a few members of his ice crew will head across the street to Wells Fargo Center to start a process called "slushing."

What Craig and his crew will do is pick up a load of snow from the rink across the street, bring it back here to Citizens Bank Park, and then turn it into slush. They'll take that slush and use it to seal the bottom of the boards to the ice tray, and seal the gaps between the trays where the coolant hoses run. That will keep any water from leaking out of the rink.

That will happen later this afternoon. In the meantime, the workers are building the stage that will surround the rink -- for as long as the weather holds out. As you can see from this dynamic photo taken by my colleague Matt Coe around 11 a.m., things could get stormy around here soon.

We'll have more later, and if all goes well, an in-depth look at the slushing process. You can follow along with all the progress with's live webcam.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 5:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Classic Preparations

Not a bad seat in the house

PHILADELPHIA -- This will be the third time the Winter Classic is held at a baseball stadium, but with Citizens Bank Park, there are more than a few differences between this park and Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, starting with the obvious.

"This stadium is 90 years newer than that one (Fenway)," Renzulli said. "Most of it is winterized. There was not much we had to do as far as the stadium is concerned … all the bathrooms are winterized."

Renzulli also said Citizens Bank Park reminds him more of a football stadium than it does the previous baseball parks the NHL has used.

"This place, to me, this is more of a football stadium because it's so vertical," he said. "The sight lines are great. For hockey the higher you go up the better, the better seat it is, and this is a very tall stadium. As I walk around, now that the rink is up, and I look down, there are phenomenal seats here."

Renzulli added that with the temporary seating added in center field, as well as a few other places around the ballpark, capacity will be about 47,000 for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on  Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 4:46 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Classic Preparations

Ice build to start Friday

PHILADELPHIA -- Weather permitting, NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told reporters this afternoon that he hopes to start spraying water on the hockey rink here at Citizens Bank Park sometime after 3 p.m. tomorrow.

"Right now I know for a fact I won't be starting anything until 3 p.m. tomorrow," Craig said. "I know I can't work on this floor before 3. Anything after 3, and probably until 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, that's when we'll do it."

Craig said he hopes to have the ice truck start pumping the glycol coolant into the aluminum ice trays sometime around 7 or 8 p.m. tonight, which eventually will bring the floor of the rink to the right temperature to start making ice.

"Probably within the next 3-4 hours we're going to start filing up the main header pipes and the truck is ready to fire up and hopefully sometime tonight we'll get the floor back down to temperature we require and do a good test run tonight," Craig said. "And we'll take a look at seeing if we can make ice tomorrow."

Eventually, Craig said he'll make two inches of ice for the Flyers and Rangers to skate on. At 10,000 gallons of water per inch of ice, that takes a lot of work and a lot of time to freeze. That's the reason the flood starts eight days before the first official on-ice event -- the media skate on Dec. 30.

"Can we do it in three days? Yes, we can do it in three days," Craig said. "Do I want to do it in six? I want to do it in six."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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