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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 12:30 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Broten puts hunting on hold for Classic

PHILADELPHIA -- Before Paul Broten ever joined the New York Rangers in 1989, he grew up in Roseau, Minn. If you're not familiar with that territory, it's a cold-weather area in a state that's nicknamed The Land of 10,000 Lakes.

So it would only be normal to assume Broten spent his boyhood years skating outside on frozen bodies of water, honing the game that would allow him to spend seven years in the NHL and four with the Rangers.

Well, you'd be wrong.

"You know what, I didn't," Broten said Friday, as he met with media on the eve of 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game in which he'll take part. "I grew up in northern Minnesota. We didn't have a lot of outdoor rinks. We had three indoor rinks. We had 2,500 people who skated all the time. I played a lot of road hockey. But the myth of skating outdoors in northern Minnesota was…never did it a lot. We always had indoor rinks and did that all the time."

Broten will get to skate outside Saturday against the Flyers alumni at Citizens Bank Park. While that will be a rarity for the 46-year-old, he talked about what is commonplace for a native of Minnesota -- ice fishing and sitting in a tree for hours while out hunting.

"That's part of Minnesota -- if you don't ice fish and you don't sit in a tree and wait for a deer, you're not a true Minnesotan," Broten said. "I'm not going to say it's a lot of fun, but it's something you have to do. I do a lot of it, and I enjoy it. It's just something that gets you out of the house I guess."

Broten told his favorite story from the Flyers-Rangers rivalry, when he scored a big goal that angered the Flyers' goaltender.

"The rivalry way so intense," Broten said. "I'll never forget the time (Darren Turcotte) slid the puck over to me and I scored against Ron Hextall. I told him, 'Hey, it's not a guessing game.' He was so mad that he swung his stick and broke it. Every time I came into Philadelphia, it was always a battle. Guys were nervous to play here because we knew it was going to be an intense hockey game.

"When they turned the bus off and pulled into the parking lot, the bus would still be shaking. Guys were scared. They knew they were in for a battle."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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POSTED ON Friday, 12.30.2011 / 6:07 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Memories of Mike Keenan run deep for Ranger alum

PHILADELPHIA -- When he was coaching in the NHL, there weren't many who came with a scarier reputation than Mike Keenan.

His toughness earned him the nickname "Iron Mike," but his savvy brought the New York Rangers a Stanley Cup in 1994, their first since 1940 and only championship in the past 71 years.

The 62-year-old Keenan will be behind the Rangers bench once again, but only for the 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday.

On Thursday, former Rangers Darren Turcotte and Paul Broten, who will be on the ice for the alumni game at Citizens Bank Park, talked about the potential fireworks that could come with Keenan as their coach once again.

"Now I can just turn around and say whatever," said Broten, who played under Keenan with the St. Louis Blues but not for the Rangers. "I'm not being paid. I can say whatever I want. He can go a fly a kite. It was different when I was being paid to play. He can't trade me."

Turcotte only spent 13 games with the Rangers before he was dealt to the Hartford Whalers, causing him to miss out on the Stanley Cup run. His experience with Keenan was limited, but he still left an impression.

"I played for some pretty tough coaches growing up," Turcotte said. "I played for my dad, who was known as one of the toughest coaches in northern Ontario. I played for Bud Templeton in North Bay for four years. Fortunately, for me, I was prepared for Mike Keenan's style. He also did some things that were a little bit…you look back, and we won our first four games of the season, and we lost to Anaheim at home in Game 5. Even though we started 4-1, we got to the rink the next day and there were no pucks on the ice. We skated for about 45 minutes straight.

"Then he preceded to kick everybody off the ice. He was sitting in the dressing room waiting for us with our five-game bonus checks. He made sure everyone came over and took them personally and shook our hands and congratulated us after drilling us into the ice for 45 minutes.

"Mike had his way of motivating. For me, I was just going to work as hard as I could because I wanted to be a Ranger."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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POSTED ON Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:14 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Taking a twirl

PHILADELPHIA -- The first skates touched the Citizens Bank Park ice shortly after 10 a.m. Friday morning. They were tied onto Dan Craig's feet.

Craig, rightfully so, was the first person to skate on the rink he and his crew have been creating here for nearly two weeks. He skated along the boards and kept his eyes down, looking at the ice around the edges.

Not long after Craig got on the ice, several members of the crew and some NHL staffers joined him and started taking some twirls. The sun is shining, but right now shadows are covering roughly a third of the ice.

HBO had its cameras rolling on the entire thing.

We'll have more later, including a video report from the ice.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 6:45 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Alumni game to be a Clarke family affair

VOORHEES, N.J. -- At the Philadelphia Flyers' practice rink, there's a balcony off the general manager's office that allows him to observe his players in action.

For years as GM of the Flyers, Bob Clarke occupied that spot. Yesterday, it was his daughter, Jodi -- who works for the team as a receptionist -- watching from that same spot.

When asked what it was like to watch her father -- a Hockey Hall of Famer, three-time Hart Trophy winner and two-time Stanley Cup champion -- back in action, she had a unique reply.

"Funny," she told NHL.com, then started laughing. "When he started skating a month ago, it was slow and very methodical. But now that they're all back together, you see a little more jump in their step and they seem to be reliving their youth and having a ball."

Clarke was joined by a few former teammates, including Bill Barber, Reggie Leach and Bernie Parent, for a skate this morning here at Virtua Flyers Skate Zone.

Also on the ice was Peter, Bob's 12-year-old grandson. For mom Jodi, that was really what she wanted to see.

"Him and my dad in the last year do pretty much everything together," said Jodi. "When he was littler it was harder, but now they're buddies. My dad is taking him to the family skate, he's taking him to the Alumni Game. Peter will probably be on the bench. He just wants to experience everything with my little guy and I love that. My daughter, she likes it but she's more interested in shopping with Grandma than she is watching Grandpa do anything. I'm very excited for my son."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 10:34 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Snider foundation provides Classic opportunity


PHILADELPHIA -- Dylan Candelore, Tyreese Walker and Kristopher Zapata now know what good grades, a strong work ethic, a positive attitude and excellent attendance can do for them.

The three members of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation were selected from among 2,500 candidates to come to Citizens Bank Park on Thursday and help NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig build the ice sheet for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

The kids joined Craig and his crew on the ice Thursday morning. Craig taught them a few things about the rink-building process and then handed them a hose so they could spray water to seal in the Winter Classic logo just inside the visitor's blue line.

"I think it is pretty cool," said Candelore, a 10-year-old goalie from Philadelphia. "They only have the Winter Classic once a year and we got to help make the ice for it. That's just cool."

Candelore, Walker and Zapata were chosen to be at the ballpark on Thursday because they have an exemplary record within the Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. They will also be among the 10 kids who will skate on the auxiliary rink prior to and in-between periods of the game between the Flyers and Rangers on Jan. 2.

A total of 30 kids will rotate on the auxiliary rink on Jan. 2, including 10 from the Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, 10 from the Flyers fan development program, five from the Rangers and five from Ice Hockey in Harlem.

"Everybody is going to be staring at us," Zapata, a 9-year-old center from Pennsauken, N.J., said when he was told that all eyes inside the stadium will be on them. "It's going to be cool. Everybody will be watching."

The Snider Youth Hockey Foundation will also be represented by 110 kids holding flags and taking part in the ceremony prior to the Molson Canadien 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game at 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 31. Even more kids will get a chance to skate on the main rink later in the afternoon on Dec. 31 during a private skate just for select members of the Foundation.

But the three that came on Thursday got the special treatment, including a tour of the ballpark after their visit with Craig.

"This was fun," said Walker, a 9-year-old defenseman from Philadelphia. "We got to spray the logo that's going to be on TV. That's awesome."

Of course, the actual Winter Classic game is also of great interest to three youngsters. They are, after all, huge Flyers fans.

Walker said his favorite player is Wayne Simmonds, while Candelore and Zapata both named Ilya Bryzgalov. Candelore likes Bryzgalov because, like him, he's a goalie. Zapata has gotten to like Bryzgalov by watching HBO's "24/7" series featuring the Flyers and Rangers.

"He's funny," Zapata said. "He talks about the universe and how you don't want to kill tigers in Russia."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 9:30 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Winter Classic rink closer to completion


PHILADELPHIA -- The ice is white and the blue lines are down. The crew is currently laying in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic logo that half-moons around the outside of the center-ice faceoff circle. The center ice faceoff dot is in and the outlines of the red line are as well. The goal lines are also being laid in.

A hockey rink is most definitely taking shape here at Citizens Bank Park.

NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig told NHL.com this morning that things are looking good and that he was even able to leave the ballpark by 8 p.m. Wednesday after arriving shortly after 6 a.m. He had members of his crew stay until midnight sealing in the white paint that they put on the ice sheet earlier in the evening.

The challenge is to have all the lines, logos, faceoff dots, circles, goal creases, trapezoids -- every possible marker -- frozen into the ice by 11 a.m. Thursday because that's about when the sun will start to cover the ice sheet.

Outside the boards, workers are busy laying long and wide white strips of foam on all the exposed grass areas. Without any natural snow at their disposal, the NHL uses the white foam to give the ballpark that wintery look. It's especially picturesque on television when NBC uses its airplane camera.

Outside the ballpark, work on Spectator Plaza continues. It is set to open at 9 a.m. on Dec. 31.

There is more of a buzz in the ballpark this morning. Several more NHL staff members arrived late last night and NHL Network will begin its coverage from Citizens Bank Park later today with NHL Live at 5 p.m.

We'll have more later, including an updates from both Dan Craig and Don Renzulli as well as some of the thoughts from Phillies President David Montgomery, who will be here to meet the media at 10:30 a.m.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 4:50 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Westerby's legacy lives in Classic logo

PHILADELPHIA -- Harry Westerby most likely was wearing his gray cardigan sweater with the elongated red-white-and-blue Rangers logo sewn onto the left side as a way of keeping warm.

Little did Westerby, the Rangers' trainer from their first three Stanley Cup championship teams (1928, 1933 and 1940), know that the logo he wore on the left side of that heavy cardigan would serve as the inspiration for the team's logo for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

In fact, the Rangers' logo for this season's Winter Classic is, according to NHL Executive V.P. of Marketing Brian Jennings, basically exactly the same as the one Westerby wore on his sweater.

"His wife probably sewed it on the sweater and he wore it out of necessity as a way of keeping warm," Jennings told NHL.com. "This was in the 1920s, and probably no one was thinking about merchandising."

A picture of Westerby wearing the sweater was included in a large batch of photos the Rangers sent to Reebok.

"And the Reebok guys are amazing," Jennings said. "You can page through three or four pages of nothing but shots, it might even be of a practice jersey, and you'd be like, 'Wow, I never realized they had that.' It can be anything, even stuff that you wouldn't think, to be the point of information. I think fans love that stuff."

Jennings added that the fact the logo is already part of Rangers history is important to the overall Winter Classic celebration and the marketing that goes on around it.

"Very few clubs say, 'Make me a fusion jersey, just go and create what you want, and basically disregard whatever our history was,'" Jennings said. "In most instances they want to be able to point back to something and frankly tell a story. The fact that Harry Westerby was the inspiration behind this is a fun story for those that are in the know. Reporters can tell the story about where this came about, and a lot of clubs feel strongly about that."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 12:03 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com. 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 NHL.com, "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 akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 10:58 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Winter Classic ice gets reinforcements

PHILADELPHIA -- The ice crew for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic reached into their bag of tricks Wednesday morning and pulled out a good one that had people standing around the boards wondering just what they were doing.
 
With NHL Facilities Operations Supervisor Don Moffatt looking on and helping out, the crew pulled out long sheets of white mesh and started freezing them into what they know are the weakest areas of the ice as a reinforcing agent.
 
Moffatt called the tactic "making steel ice," and said the mesh becomes so strong when it gets frozen into the ice that you need a circular saw to take it out. He said they used the tactic in Calgary last season for the Heritage Classic as well as in Boston for the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park.
 
They ran a piece 20 feet long by 5 feet wide the long way from the Zamboni doors out well beyond the holes for the goal moorings and then laid in a piece 30 feet long by eight feet wide along the goal line at the opposite end of the rink. Moffatt said reinforcing those two areas is important because they are where the Zamboni comes onto the ice and where it makes a lot of its turns.
 
They sprayed water over top the mesh in each area and used squeegees to spread it out and make sure the mesh was as straight and flat as it could be.
 
Moffatt said they may also use the mesh in front of the benches, because that's another high-traffic area. The mesh is not used in indoor NHL rinks because the ice is built on a cement floor. But for the outdoor rinks the NHL uses, the 30-foot wide aluminum panels that serve as the base are not as rigid and can bow slightly under the weight of the Zamboni in certain areas.
 
Now those areas are reinforced.
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 9:58 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Getting ready to paint

PHILADELPHIA -- The rain finally stopped around 8 p.m. Tuesday, but that was after a downpour that NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig called a "typhoon that from 6:45 to 7:10 gave us as much water on the ice as we got the rest of the day."

Craig and his crew arrived at Citizens Bank Park early Wednesday morning and, according to NHL Facilities Operations Supervisor Don Moffatt, the ice survived quite well.

Five members of the crew, including Moffatt, were on the ice twice between 7 and 9 a.m. spraying hot water in order to level out the sheet. It was simple ice maintenance that Craig said had to be done before they could break out the white paint and start with the task of coloring the ice into what fans normally would see.

The goal was to start painting white by 9 a.m., but the sun came out and started to hit the sheet just around that time, delaying the painting. Moffatt said it is best to paint when no sun is hitting the ice sheet because that way the paint will freeze quicker and won't run, which could create air pockets.

It's possible the crew won't start painting until 2 p.m., when the sun moves off the ice surface. While that is a setback of five hours, Moffatt said there is plenty of time built into the schedule and that they are going to hit their target of having the rink ready to go by Friday morning.

After painting white, the crew will try to build roughly an eighth of inch of ice on top to seal the white in before painting it can start with lines and logos. Moffatt said if they don't get a good seal of ice over the white paint, the white could bleed into the lines and logos.

There's a good chance the crew will work until midnight sealing in the white paint, which means they won't start putting in the lines and logos until Thursday morning.

They will then have to build roughly a half an inch of ice over the lines and logos to seal it all in.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


 

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