PHILADELPHIA -- The ice conditions became an afterthought following Monday's 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. That's exactly how Dan Craig, the NHL's Senior Director of Facilities Operations, wanted it to be.
"It means that I'm doing the job I am supposed to do," Craig told NHL.com. "That's what I get paid to do."
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers got paid to play on that ice at Citizens Bank Park, and they thought the conditions were as ideal as possible for a game being played outside on a temporary rink built on a baseball field.
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan praised Craig and his crew for their work by saying the ice was better than he expected it to be. Brad Richards, who scored the winning goal, echoed those statements, telling NHL.com that the ice conditions Monday were "night and day" from the conditions for the Rangers practice 24 hours earlier.
"To be able to put that caliber of play on that ice is pretty amazing," Richards said following the Rangers' 3-2 win.
Perhaps the highest praise of the ice came out of the Flyers dressing room, out of the mouth of defenseman Braydon Coburn, who said the ice was "definitely better than some of the rinks we play on."
A humbled Craig, the man in charge of not only the ice but all the playing areas at the Winter Classic, admitted he was "relieved" that the Winter Classic went off without a hitch Monday even though the start time was pushed back from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to allow for ideal playing conditions.
"You put in so much effort and you want everybody to enjoy it, and that's the biggest thing," Craig said. "You want the players to enjoy it, the fans to enjoy it and hopefully it was a good presentation on TV. That's why we do it."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
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