PITTSBURGH -- Dan Craig held a meeting with his ice crew at the staff hotel Thursday. They casually discussed everything from scheduling to potential pitfalls and finally, what they were going to do Thursday night because going to Heinz Field was not an option.
Originally Craig's crew was hoping to attend the Steelers game, but since they technically don't have to be at the stadium until their walk-through Friday morning the guys decided to scratch that and head out for an early dinner so they could get back to the hotel in time to watch the Penguins-Capitals game as well as some of the Steelers game.
They'll meet for breakfast at 7 a.m. Friday before heading over to the stadium together. Even Craig didn't bother coming to the stadium Thursday night because there is literally nothing for him to do until the union workers put down all the decking and build the stage that will house the rink.
BaaM Productions is overseeing that work Thursday night into Friday morning and Craig's crew will oversee the installation of the floor panels (sub floor beneath the ice) and boards all day Friday. They won't be able to turn on a hose to start building ice until very late on Christmas Day, and that's a best case scenario.
Prior to that union workers will be doing the heavy lifting.
The Winter Classic Ice Truck is scheduled to come into the city between 1 and 3 a.m. Friday, but it won't be parked at its position outside of Heinz Field until several hours later. Once the truck is situated the workers will begin the process of unloading the some 240 floor panels that provide the piping necessary to create the ice.
There are another 56 floor panels that will serve as the base for the auxiliary rink.
The panels are connected like a jigsaw puzzle and that must be in the most careful fashion because if one piece is off or one pipe not connected then the entire project goes haywire. That, along with making sure the stage is level, is the most important part of the rink build.
If the pipes aren't connected all they'll have is puddles.
But, before putting an ounce of labor into this project the boys enjoyed a night off. Hope they enjoyed it, because it's their last one until 2011.
Obviously there's a lot of expectations around me but it's something I try not to focus on. I'm just trying to go out there, be myself on the ice every day, try to get better, be myself around the guys in the locker room. I think that's what's made me successful and the person that I am.
— Sabres forward Jack Eichel on transitioning from college hockey to the NHL