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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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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 4:39 PM

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

Craig, crew dealing with rain

PHILADELPHIA -- Dan Craig confirmed the obvious late Tuesday afternoon.

"It's wet," he said rather, well, dryly, while standing at the Zamboni entrance of the rain-soaked rink at Citizens Bank Park.

Craig is accurate. It is quite wet here right now, but the rain that has fallen so far this afternoon has been the good kind for Craig, the NHL's ice guru, and his crew. It's not all that heavy, and he's been able to freeze it by making some adjustments in his refrigeration truck parked outside the ballpark.

"We're almost keeping up with it," Craig said optimistically.

Craig used the word "indifferent" to describe his attitude toward the rain.

"We have to deal with it and we are," he said.

He said he expects the rain to get heavier after 5 p.m., but the weather reports he's been looking at are suggesting the weather system will move out of the area by 9 p.m. tonight or shortly after. Craig originally thought the heavy rain would last until midnight.

"If we're almost keeping up with it now and we'll only get four hours or so of heavy stuff, then we should be fine," Craig, the NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager, said.

Craig, who doesn't appear to be leaving the ballpark any time soon, said he'll be here at 6 a.m. Wednesday with four members of his crew. They'll start work on some ice maintenance, taking out the hoses and spraying hot water onto the ice to level it out. Once that freezes and the ice is smooth, they'll bring out the white paint and go to work making an ice sheet that looks like a hockey rink.

If the crew starts painting by 9 a.m. Wednesday, they'll be right on Craig's new schedule. He was supposed to have it painted and all sealed up by 9 p.m. Tuesday, but of course Mother Nature did not allow for that.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 2:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com. "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 akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 1:44 PM

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

Rain has Craig running

PHILADELPHIA -- The rain started at exactly 11:30 a.m., and it's been slowly picking up steam here at Citizens Bank Park.

NHL ice guru Dan Craig is in his back-and-forth mode. He was just out on the ice checking out the floor to see how fast the rink is freezing, but now is briskly walking back toward the ramp leading to the refrigeration truck that is parked behind the right-field wall.

While it rains this afternoon, Craig will be doing a lot of running back and forth between the rink and the truck to make sure everything is working in sync and he's not freezing the rain that's falling onto the ice sheet too fast or too slow. He said it's all about balance, and if he can make it work, then Mother Nature will have helped him build the type of ice that he wants.

However, the rain is supposed to pick up as the day goes on, and roughly an inch of rain is expected to fall here.

Craig said if the forecast is accurate and the rain persists, he'll send his crew back to the hotel because there won't be anything for them to do here while it rains. He'll monitor the truck to see how fast it's pumping the glycol coolant to the floor, but that's a one- or two-man job.

In fact, since Craig left the field no one else has come on. That's how quiet it is here now due to the rain.

Our hope is to talk to Craig again later today to see how things are progressing and how the rain is affecting him, if at all.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 10:18 AM

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

More Eyes on the Ice

PHILADELPHIA -- NHL Facilities Operations Supervisor Don Moffatt was on his way back to Citizens Bank Park shortly before 9 a.m. this morning, a mere eight hours after he left the ballpark.

Moffatt, who was heading to the NHL staff shuttle, told NHL.com the crew was able to create almost an inch of ice before leaving the park after midnight. He seemed pleased with how well the night shift went and said he already had spoken to NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig, who arrived at the park just after 6 a.m. to start the day shift.

Moffatt said the goal this morning is to try to get between an eighth of an inch and a quarter of an inch of ice on the surface before rain is expected to arrive around 11 a.m., but Craig told NHL.com later that with the rain coming there is no need to spray any more water.

So, instead he had members of the crew installing more cables for the Eye on the Ice technology.

Eye on the Ice -- long cables with temperature sensors on the end -- provides real-time information on the ice surface to Craig and his staff and allows them to make any necessary adjustments. In addition to the two sensors installed this morning, there are two others frozen to the ice trays on the rink floor.

Moffatt said having the two measurements gives the crew a much better idea of how the floor is running in relation to what the refrigeration truck is pumping.

NHL.com will have more on Eye on the Ice later, including a video with Craig explaining it in detail.

Craig and his staff could have some challenges to tackle depending on the type of rain that falls on Philadelphia.

It's expected to be a warm rain, but if it's the light, misty kind, then they'll be able to freeze it and, as Moffatt said, Mother Nature would have done their job for them. However, if it's a heavy, warm rain with large droplets, freezing it could be difficult and it could create some run-off, which may lead to some melting on the edges.

That would mean the crew would have to do more slushing. Slushing is a process by which they take snow from neighboring Wells Fargo Center, haul it to Citizens Bank Park, and pack clumps of it into the edges of the rink to fill the gap of roughly three quarters of an inch between the boards and the ice surface.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 5:09 PM

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

Warmest place to sit for Winter Classic

PHILADELPHIA -- Fire up the benches, it's cold outside.

Once again the player benches at the NHL Winter Classic will have the option to be heated, and Monday afternoon the connection was completed.

A 10-inch aluminum pipe was attached to a kerosene heater called Dyna-Glo Pro, which is stationed behind each bench. Since player benches actually consist of two benches put together, the pipe runs between them and then off to run underneath each seating area.

The heat actually runs from the kerosene heater through an eight-inch pipe that is inside the 10-inch pipe. The eight-inch pipe provides insulation so the outside layer of the 10-inch pipe isn't too hot to touch. It's called a double-insulator pipe.

Once the kerosene heater gets fired up, the benches can get hot quick, and the players don't always like it that way. In Buffalo, the players opted to have the heaters moved back away from the benches. The further the kerosene heater gets from the bench the less heat it delivers to the bench.

The benches the NHL will use this year came from the Buffalo Bills. The NFL team purchased new benches and offered its old ones to the League for use at its outdoor events.

These benches even provide an area for the players to heat their feet. There are 10 spots on each bench for the players to rest their feet. Of course, at any given time during 5-on-5 play there are 14 players on the bench, and since they shift around quite a bit, especially with on-the-fly line changes, odds are the players won't even realize they can heat their feet at the same time as their bottoms.

What's also interesting is the pipe that connects the heater to the benches runs high in between the perch for the coaches behind the bench. So, if Peter Laviolette or John Tortorella want to move up and down the bench to talk to their forwards and defensemen, they better watch their step because it'll be easy for them to trip over the pipe.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 4:54 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 3:45 PM

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

Working holiday for Craig and his crew

PHILADELPHIA -- For the second straight Christmas, Dan Craig and several members of his crew spent the holiday together, building ice for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

It hardly was a bother to them.

"You know what? It was quite relaxing," Toronto native Garrett Mills said. "During the day there are still some people around the stadium, but once the sun went down we stayed out here, got a little glare off the Phillies sign above the scoreboard, and that's when you really noticed it because all you heard was the water hitting the ice. It was a surreal experience when you figure out where you are, what you're doing and how lucky you are to have the opportunity to be doing it."

Chicago native Pat Finch, who has been on Craig's crew since the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in 2009, said the best part about staying in Philadelphia was how much work they were able to accomplish without any distractions.

"We weren't killing ourselves and we got our stuff done," Finch said. "We made the best of a bad situation."

Not everyone on the crew stayed in town, but those who did only spent a few hours at the ballpark in the morning and again in the late afternoon into the early evening. It was far different than last year in Pittsburgh, when they had two sets of six crew members rotating on 12-hour shifts.

This year they were able to go out for a Christmas dinner. Last year they had it in the ballpark during a quick shift break.

"It is peaceful and it is nice, but at 2 or 3 in the morning it's not all that great, so it was nice to take advantage of it here," said Minnesota native Jake Fernholz. "There was no pressure here. We got ourselves in a good spot where we didn't have to kill ourselves to make sure everything was ready to rock when everybody else got in."

Of course, it did come at a price.

"Essentially no pressure, and yet we had to stay through Christmas to make sure the work got done," Fernholz said. "So, there is a double-edged sword there."

Mills said he countered that by celebrating Christmas with his family a week early. Finch said he'll do Christmas with his family when he gets home.

"It's tough when you tell them you won't be able to make it home for Christmas, but this is like a second family," Finch said. "The people we were with here, if I couldn't be with my family I'd rather be with them. We laughed, had some good dinners and it was really good."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 2:42 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com. "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 akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:42 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK




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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com. "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 akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 11:25 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com's live webcam.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 5:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on  Twitter: @NHLAdamK







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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 4:46 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 2:48 PM

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

Sunny days are here again

PHILADELPHIA -- Workers in T-shirts moving panels and hammering things into place was a common sight here at Citizens Bank Park today.

It's not your usual December Wednesday in the Northeast, but after two straight days of irritating drizzle and dreary skies, seeing some sun was a good thing.

Rather than bundling up, the folks on the work crew needed a bit of suntan lotion this morning.

"This is probably the best weather we could have for a set-up," NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told NHL.com. "Can't ask for better than this. … Today it's a lot brighter. You get a suntan coming off these panels."

The sun also allowed other work adjacent to the rink to get sped up. Three stages have been built in the outfield, and the broadcast platform is taking shape. The hope is those get locked in, because Craig hopes to run his coolant hoses and pipes down to the ice trays today. Once those go in, it limits where the forklifts can go.

"Once we lay hoses down, we can't have any more forklifts coming back and for through this area, so we want to make sure they're all buttoned up on the staging platforms," Craig said. "Once we load (the hoses) up, everybody has to drive all the way around the field."

Craig said he hopes to have his hoses in place later today and start clearing the air out of them and the ice panels. Once that's done -- a process that could take up to 12 hours -- he'll be able to run the refrigerant that will freeze the panels. After that will come the first water spray and the beginning of actual ice being made -- Mother Nature willing, of course.

"I'm hoping to do tomorrow morning as a test," Craig said. "It looks like we're supposed to get a lot of rain tonight so that may slow us down again. But we just do what we do any other day -- we wake up, and whatever we have (weather-wise), that's what we work with."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 11:20 AM

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

A beautiful Day 4 as sun makes its return

Decor has gone up on the roofs of the broadcast chalets the NBC and CBC studio crews will work out of. (Photo: NHL.com)
PHILADELPHIA -- Work started again bright and early here at Citizens Bank Park, and the men and woman working on transforming the ballpark into an outdoor hockey wonderland received a wonderful gift -- the return of the sun. After two straight days of rain, it was a welcome sight.

While warm and sunny doesn't do much for ice making, it certainly makes all the other things going on around the ballpark get done a lot smoother.

Today's changes included décor going on the roofs of the chalets NBC and CBC's studio crews will work from, the construction of the broadcast platform and entertainment stages and more dressing up of the ballpark with Winter Classic signage.

The boards are being locked into place, and once that gets done, NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig and his crew will be able to start running the coolant into the ice pans. When that happens, things get shifted into Mother Nature's hands, as Craig will wait for temperatures to drop enough that he can start spraying water and beginning the process of making ice.

We'll have more a bit later after our daily briefing with Craig, but you can follow along with NHL.com's live webcam.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 2:12 PM

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

'24/7' films rink build

PHILADELPHIA -- It's not just the players and coaches from the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers who will get their turn in the spotlight of HBO's "24/7 Flyers-Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic."

A crew from the award-winning documentary series was filming for most of the morning the work being done by the hundred or so tasked with laying the last of the ice trays, installing the boards, locking in the coolant pipes, building various stages and platforms and hanging signage around the ballpark.

Look for scenes of the rink construction here at Citizens Bank Park worked into a future episode of "24/7" -- possibly even Episode 2, which debuts tonight on HBO at 10 p.m. ET.

You can follow along all the work being done here at the ballpark at NHL.com's live webcam.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK









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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 11:26 AM

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

Rink not only place where work is being done

PHILADELPHIA -- While NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig oversees the rink build, Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli is keeping an eye on all the other work going on in the transformation of Citizens Bank Park from baseball stadium to outdoor hockey wonderland.

"As long as the weather stays with us, we'll be in pretty good shape," Renzulli told NHL.com earlier this morning. "A lot has been done the last two days. We're on schedule as far as the things that are going on the field."

Among them are the elevated broadcast platforms where NBC and CBC will broadcast the game, as well as an entertainment stage in left field. The host chalets for NBC and CBC have been built in near the right field wall, with the roofs and windows finally installed.

Renzulli said approval from the city for the 1,500 temporary seats installed in center field should come tomorrow, and other temporary seating installed around the ballpark has been finished. Signage and other décor is starting to be hung in Ashburn Alley, the ballpark's signature outfield concourse.

"Things are going relatively smooth," said Renzulli. "Once the rink is up, the transformation is really the core. They're starting to put some banners up in the alley right now. Once that goes up, it starts to transform the whole place."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 10:02 AM

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

Putting together the puzzle

The Winter Classic ice crew puts together the first set of rink boards on Wednesday morning. (Photo: NHL.com)
PHILADELPHIA -- When NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig talked yesterday about the arrival and installation of the rink boards, he called it putting together a puzzle.

Well, that puzzle was taken out of its box this morning, and the pieces are distributed all around the rink being built here in the middle of Citizens Bank Park for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

While the last of the ice trays were being laid down in one end zone, the first of the boards were being put together -- one of the corner sections.

We'll find out from Craig a little later just how much of the boards will be installed today.

It also looks like the connectors for the coolant that will keep the rink bed cold are being laid in today, along with some insulation. That means the hoses carrying the glycol coolant can't be far behind. Craig said there will need to be some testing done to make sure everything is running right, but it looks like more progress is being made.

It also looks like windows have been installed in host chalets built for NBC and CBC studio teams. I'm sure they'll like that when Jan. 2 rolls around. And there's even work being done in the press box here at the ballpark, in order to accommodate the large influx of media that will arrive to cover the game.

We'll have more in a while, after our daily briefing with Craig.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 4:02 PM

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

Rain, rain, go away

PHILADELPHIA -- A steady drizzle fell on Dan Craig and his crew for most of today, but that didn't stop them from getting a good amount of the ice pans installed on the main rink the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will skate on when the puck is dropped for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

It was far from a downpour, but the rain was irritating enough that it slowed things down more than NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig would have liked.

"It's slowed the guys up a bit, (but) we're doing all right," he told NHL.com. "Even if you're doing a home project, the last thing you want is to be outside in the rain. What you prefer is to stay dry. That's the main thing, keeping the guys healthy and safe out there."

The forecast for tomorrow from weather.com calls for a 70-percent chance of rain, but with a temperature of 58 degrees. As we all know, however, the weather remains the most unpredictable part of the Winter Classic experience.

"I saw one (report) that said a little rain-slash-snow mixture," Craig said, "which would not be good for us."

However, over the long term between now and the puck drop for the Winter Classic, Craig remains confident weather won't cause too much of a problem.

"I don't see anything between now and the Classic that's any major concern to what we have going on," he said.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

 

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 3:58 PM

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

Boards coming next

PHILADELPHIA -- While the rink being built here at Citizens Bank Park for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic right now looks like a giant rectangle laid out in the middle of the infield, tomorrow will see a sight familiar to all hockey fans -- the boards are going in.

NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig told NHL.com that first thing tomorrow morning, the rink boards will be off-loaded, carried into position and anchored to the rink floor. That's when this will go from looking like a construction site to an actual hockey rink.

And then will come the coolant, moving us one step closer to making ice.

"Once the board system is on and everything is secure, we fill the system up and then we'll pressure-test it," Craig said. "We'll circulate (the coolant), make sure everything is full, get all the air out of the system. At that point we'll see where we are, what Mother Nature does for us, if we're going to bring hoses up."

Craig anticipates the boards going on first thing tomorrow morning. You can watch them get laid in on NHL.com's live webcam, plus we'll have all the details right here at this blog, so follow along.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 12:15 PM

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

Winter Classic construction crew making progress

PHILADELPHIA -- When the crews left Citizens Bank Park here at 5 p.m. last night, they just about had the sub-floor for the main rink laid, and the crews finished that task when they started back up at 8 a.m. today.

Day 2 of the build-out for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic not only featured the completion of the sub-floor, it was followed by a layer of plywood being laid over the top of that sub-floor. And now the crews are beginning the installation of the 30-foot-long pans that will hold the coolant that keeps the ice solid. If all goes well, they could start hooking up the hoses that pump the glycol into the pans.

Besides the main rink, the pans were laid for the auxiliary rink, which is situated between home plate and the pitcher's mound.

In addition, construction along the right-field wall of the host positions for NBC and CBC are moving along quite nicely.

We'll be getting a full progress report from NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig sometime after 1 p.m., so check back in later.

Until then, you can follow along live right here on NHL.com's live webcam.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 5:25 PM

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

Ice guru Craig meets the media

PHILADELPHIA -- It was show-and-tell time for Dan Craig, the NHL's resident ice-making guru.

During the general media availability at 3:30 Monday afternoon, Craig ran over and grabbed one of the four-inch pipes that he will use to connect the floor of the auxiliary rink to the refrigeration truck parked outside Citizens Bank Park. He picked it up and began explaining how it connects to the floor and how the pipe eventually connects to the truck outside.

"We hook the (aluminum panels) onto these hoses," Craig said, pointing out the hoses attached to the pipe. "There's a quick connect here and the glycol, which is simple antifreeze, gets pumped into the aluminum panel, which is a quick, fast-freezing element. The whole set up will take about 300 panels, and these are 30 feet long by 30 inches wide. We'll push 1,500 gallons of glycol in per minute from the truck down into the floor."

Craig had the assembled media amazed. It was one of those, "Wait a minute, you don't just spray water and it freezes" moments.

It definitely is not, and that's why Craig pulled out one of the pipes to demonstrate.

Other than the show-and-tell, Craig offered some positive updates for how the first day of the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic buildout was going. He said everything is on schedule and going according to plan.

The plan for Tuesday is further set-up and the goal is to be spraying water by Thursday night. He said it'll happen at night because the sun goes down and the temperatures dip into the 30s, and those are ideal conditions for ice making.

"We might as well use the benefit of being down into the 30s or high 40s to make a good sheet of ice," Craig said. "So, if you go onto the (NHL.com) webcam, you won't see a whole lot of work going on during the day. A lot of it will happen at night with security lightning because that's the best time for us to work."

Once Craig was finished with his demonstration and update, he started fielding some questions. A television reporter asked him about the challenges he faces here at Citizens Bank Park compared to other outside venues.

"I don't know yet. I really don't," Craig said. "It's one of those things you have to be in here for a couple of days. This morning it was very calm, very nice, and now we have the wind picking up, and it's approximately gametime for us. That's one of the things I watch, is to really see what transitions here between noon and 4, what happens in the region and how it affects us here. If you get up to the truck you don't feel the wind, but down here you feel the wind. It's elements like that that we have to play with and work with."

The goal, Craig said, is to have an inch of ice built by Dec. 26 so they can start painting white Dec. 27. He wants to have the lines and logos painted on the 28th and then build more ice so the entire sheet is ready before the scheduled media skate on Dec. 30.

Craig was asked if it's important that the ice gets skated on prior to the actual game being played on Jan. 2.

"Definitely, definitely," he said. "It doesn't matter where you are or what facility you're in, you always try to make sure it's chewed up a little bit so we can let it heal itself and get the bottom back together. Density on a sheet of ice is the No. 1 thing we deal with."

With no further questions, Craig's first general media session was over. He walked away smiling as he went to tackle his next task.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 4:48 PM

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

Renzulli reveals details about ancillary events

PHILADELPHIA -- If NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig is in charge of the actual game that will be played Jan. 2 here at Citizens Bank Park, NHL Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli helms all the ancillary events that will make the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic one of the most memorable events of the 2011-12 season.

At a press briefing today, Renzulli gave a few details of what the non-rink décor of the stadium will entail.

Most obvious are the 1,500 temporary seats installed in center field, which will be completed and approved by the end of the week. Left field near the foul pole will feature two goalie sticks framing a hockey puck about 35 feet in diameter, while the right-field corner will house the host positions for NBC and CBC.

The broadcast positions for NBC and CBC will be erected in what usually is short center field.

The auxiliary rink will be built between the pitcher's mound and home plate, and another small stage will be built in front of home plate for the anthem singers.

Work also is going on outside the stadium on Citizens Bank Way, where a spectator plaza will be constructed.

"That's where we open that up to the fans and our sponsors," Renzulli said. "There will be merchandise, a band, video board, food and beverage. A place to go enjoy yourself prior to the game. Once that opens for Alumni Day on the 31st, that'll stay open right through to when we drop the puck at 1:28 p.m. on Jan. 2.

"We've got bands on the 31st and 1st. There will be video board out there. We'll show highlights, NHL Network out there live. The network will be live out there broadcasting. All of our sponsors -- I think we have 10 or 11 that will activate out there -- they'll all have tie-ins with hockey. It's not just showing products, it's really tie-ins with the game. We'll have roaming entertainers, something similar to what we've had the past four years."

Renzulli also talked about the weather reports, which he said were very hopeful leading into the game.

"One good thing is the last hour the weather has changed," he said. "This is more like Winter Classic weather instead of the 60-degree weather we've had in the past. The weather report that I'm seeing is snow toward the end of the week, at least light snow, right through to Jan. 2. Hopefully Mother Nature works in our favor, the sun stays out of our way, little clouds, little snow and we're looking forward to a great day on Jan. 2.

"This will start to take shape pretty quickly. Hope to watch Dan make ice come Thursday."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK







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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 12:05 PM

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

Ballpark presents unique challenge for piping

PHILADELPHIA -- If you're at Citizens Bank Park for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 2 and you happen to be walking in Ashburn Alley you may find yourself standing directly under the piping that runs to the rink.

Due to the layout of the ballpark, the only way to get the piping that pumps glycol (the fluid that is used to freeze the rink) from the refrigeration truck parked outside the stadium to the rink on the field is to send it up and down on scaffolding. Part of that scaffolding is constructed above the concourse area in Ashburn Alley beyond the right-field fence.

Workers are expected to begin running the piping Monday.

The piping will start at the refrigeration truck on Hartranft Street and will be run up through a 4x4 window that leads into an indoor play area. It will run through the entire play area and out a smaller window into the concourse area.

However, that's where it will get raised to fly on the 28-foot height to go above the actual field. It will then run down a scaffolding ramp, underneath the temporary bleachers that have been erected in center field, and finally down onto the field.

The piping will run on armored decking that is already laid down in between center field and right field, and finally will get attached to junction boxes that are themselves attached to the sub-floor of the rink. The glycol circulates and freezes the water that will eventually be sprayed onto the floor to create the playing surface for the Flyers and Rangers.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl



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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 10:50 AM

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

Refrigeration truck kept on ice in bid for parking spot

PHILADELPHIA -- The NHL's famous refrigeration truck had to wait this morning before driver Jim Fraser could finally put it in park on Hartranft Street beyond right field at Citizens Bank Park.

Why? Well, a gray Ford Escape with New Jersey license plates was parked in the spot reserved for the truck.



Nobody is quite sure who the Ford Escape belonged to or why it was parked illegally in that spot, but people around the ballpark were saying it had been there since early in the morning. Even better is that when the police ran the license plates, the car came up as unregistered.

Some of the workers here for the Winter Classic buildout were joking that they should just get fork lifts to haul the Escape out of the spot, but NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig, always thinking on his feet, said that could be a problem, especially if the fork lifts ripped up the bottom of the SUV.
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 8:00 AM

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

It's time to build a hockey rink

PHILADELPHIA -- With the arrival of the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic truck ice truck this morning, Citizens Bank Park makes the full-time shift from baseball stadium to outdoor hockey oasis.

NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig and his crew are on-hand for the arrival of the custom-built 53-foot truck, which contains everything needed to create the rink that will play host to the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers on Jan. 2, 2012.

The long days and nights actually started Nov. 21, when the first pieces of armor decking were laid down to protect the field, and temporary seating already has been erected in center field (follow the progress here). Next comes the installation of everything needed to build a hockey rink in a baseball stadium.

In other words, the fun starts now.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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