– Neither rain, nor slow, nor sleet could keep the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic truck from its appointed rounds Wednesday.
Driver Jimmy Fraser
made sure the 95,000-pound ice machine on wheels safely made its journey from Springfield, Mass., to Bristol to shoot a segment at ESPN's headquarters. A couple of experts – Barry Melrose
in hockey and Dan Craig in ice – climbed inside the truck to talk about the 2010 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic between the Flyers and Bruins at Fenway Park and how the ice truck plays a key role in the New Year's Day contest.
ESPN will be on hand to cover the Winter Classic for the first time since the event's inception. Melrose and Steve Levy will be in Boston to anchor the coverage, and Melrose is hoping the weather for the showdown at Fenway is similar to what was happening Thursday in New England.
"It's the worst day of the year, we had 6-7 inches of snow last night, it's raining right now," a drenched Melrose said. "When I came here today I wasn't sure it was going to get done. But I drove into the parking lot at 11:30 and there was this giant truck sitting here. It's awesome.
"I had to break it to Danny that I'm hoping for really bad weather (at the Winter Classic). I think it makes the game better. I want snow, I want wind, I want cold. I think Fenway Park will be the best setting they had so far."
Luckily for Melrose and everyone looking forward to the Winter Classic, Craig has absolutely no worries about rain, snow or sleet.
"This wouldn't affect us at all," Craig said of the day's wet conditions. "Because our system is so strong that if it rained like this, it would be freezing as it would be going along. It'll be frozen, it will be slick. The phrase that they use, 'the road is like a hockey rink,' this is exactly how it would be.
It was freeze as fast as it would fall.
"If you have direct sunlight or reflections off boards, that causes us an issue right along the side wall. Those are the things we have to watch for."
Melrose became familiar with ice and snow as a child, and he's positive the NHL as the right man to be it's ice guy in Craig.
"I've grown up in Saskatchewan. I get ice eight months of the year, so I've known ice pretty well my whole life," Melrose said. "Danny Craig is an ice genius. My dad ran a rink when I was kid, so I know about flooding and I know about scraping and things like that. Danny's got his Masters in ice, so when you talk about Danny, he's all-encompassed and really passionate about ice and he's the perfect guy for the job."
And the time for Craig's job to really begin is nearing. The truck will arrive in Boston Thursday morning, and that's when the attention can begin to turn to the matchup between Bruins and Flyers.
"I hope it's a rough game, I hope Chara's smashing guys, I hope Pronger's hacking and whacking guys, I hope the game is 6-5 with a shootout," Melrose said.
"I hope it's everything that the NHL can be."