The game on the ice always is the most important thing, and it's the thing the fans watch the most.
But what's the second-most watched item at a hockey game? The scoreboard. Someone has to make sure all the right numbers go up on the big board so everyone can keep track of what's happening. At American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Stars, that job belongs to Mike Perlmeter.
Here's Mike's description of his typical game-day routine.
3 p.m.: I arrive at American Airlines Center and head down to the Event Level for a pre-arranged groups game on the ice.
3:15 p.m.: I set the scoreboard clock to 10:00 for team warm-ups. The “Heavyweights” are taking on the “Blues” as part of a group sales initiative by the Stars, which is quite popular. The team does about 20 of these games a season. The players are thrilled to get a chance to play hockey on the same ice that NHL teams skate on.
The groups have dinner afterward and enjoy the Stars game that evening. I enjoy working these games, too; you really see the love of the game in the players’ faces.
3:30 p.m.: The clock is set at 17:00 for the game. It's a running clock, with three periods. There is a one-minute intermission that gets the game completed in less than an hour.
4:25 p.m.: The Blues win, 6-3. The teams get off the ice and retreat to their locker rooms. I set the scoreboard to the time of day. Then I type in the NHL teams for the evening. For tonight, it's “NASHVILLE” on one side, “STARS” on the home side.
5:30 p.m.: I check with the television trucks and make sure they can see the clock in their working areas and that everything is synched up correctly. After that, I check in with the Stars' public relations staff and see if they have anything new for me. We have a great relationship. I’ve been working Stars games since the team came to Dallas in 1993, and before that I worked sporting events since the Reunion Arena days when it opened in 1980 when the Dallas Mavericks were born. I also work Mavericks games. Both are a lot of fun, but there is something special about watching hockey live. I really enjoy Stars game nights.
5:45 p.m.: I catch dinner in the Stars' press room. Mark Janko from the team's hockey operations department is trying to make head PR man Rob Scichili’s head explode with his unique brand of stirring the pot.
Tonight’s topic: “Why did Rob think that taking some Benadryl in the middle of the day last week would be a good thing for his productivity?” Other reporters trickle in for food as the discussion leads to hockey.
6 p.m.: Media relations director Jason Rademan turns all of the televisions in the press room to Center Ice and the games that are beginning on the East Coast. What a way to relax a little before working the game — Bruins at Maple Leafs to my left, Kings at Capitals to my right.
6:28 p.m.: I head back to the scoreboard operations booth rinkside.
6:35 p.m.: I start the scoreboard clock running at 40:00. This is the countdown to the end of warm-ups.
7 p.m.: The Predators and Stars hit the ice for pre-game warm-ups. The clock reads 15:00.
7:15 p.m.: Warm-ups end. The teams leave the ice.
7:21 p.m.: I reset the clock to 15:00. This is the countdown for the two teams to hit the ice for the game.
7:38 p.m.: The game begins.
10:01 p.m.: The clock hits :00 and the game ends. I say good-bye and shake hands with some of my fellow game night workers before heading out. I check in with the Stars' PR and game operations folks to make sure there are no issues. All is good. Time to head home.