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Master ice-maker gets rare "off" day

By Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

BOSTON -- Dan Craig doesn't do off days during the Winter Classic build-out, but Sunday might be as close as he will get.

 "It's a working day off," Craig told NHL.com Saturday afternoon as he talked of Sunday's plans. "We're in good shape. Everybody's in really good shape."

 Craig is the point man for the League's ambitious project of turning Fenway from a baseball cathedral to the center of the hockey universe for the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers on New Year's Day (1 p.m., NBC, CBC, RDS).

 After having to deal with snow removal during the opening days of the building process in both Buffalo and Chicago, sites of the first two Winter Classics, Craig made sure a "bonus" weather day was inserted into the schedule early on. So far, though, weather has not been an issue.

"We have three great days weather-wise," he said.  Saturday might have been the nicest day of all as the wind died down and temperatures hovered right around freezing.

 This time around, the bad weather came before construction started on-site. Craig arrived here on Wednesday greeted by snow and then rain and fog.
Hence, Craig's crew is right on schedule after tying off the final two corners of the rink and offloading the rink boards and Plexiglas, which will be installed Monday.

 His ice-making crew will begin arriving late Saturday night and will be at full strength by early afternoon Sunday. Once the whole gang is on hand, it's off to Fenway for an orientation session.

 "Everyone will get a walk-through, so they'll know what to expect when we show up for work on Monday morning," Craig said.

 A walk-through is virtually an off-day for a crew that is not fazed by 20-hour shifts, if they become necessary. So, who knows, Craig might even find some time to sit back, relax and watch some football like most Americans on a Sunday afternoon.

 "We're going to try," he said, laughing. "But it may have to wait until the night game."