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(Page 9 of 12)
2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Rangers v. Flyers

Sun returns as Day 4 sees further progress on rink

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- There was a welcome addition to the scene here at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday.

After two straight dreary, rainy days, the sun shone brightly on the rink build for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

"This is probably the best weather we could have for a set-up," NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told NHL.com. "Can't ask for better than this."

Boards installed during Day 3 of CBP rink build

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- After three days of work here at Citizens Bank Park, one major piece of the puzzle for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was put together.

Day 3 of construction saw the arrival and installation of the rink boards, meaning for the first time anyone watching the build-out could see just where the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will be skating Jan. 2.

"Once that starts going together, it's like doing a jigsaw puzzle," NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told NHL.com. "You do the borders first, then you do the interior. At least it feels like you're on the way."

Costas expects another special atmosphere

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"There's a benefit beyond the raw rating, and the raw rating is very good for a regular season game, but beyond that it raises the profile of the League in a very positive way." -- Bob Costas

NEW YORK -- The atmosphere at the NHL Winter Classic is what strikes a chord with Bob Costas every time he arrives on scene for NBC.

"In each case, for different reasons, it felt like something unique and special," Costas told the NHL Network on Wednesday.

Costas will again lead NBC's Winter Classic coverage on Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park. He has been involved since Day 1 in Buffalo -- Jan. 1, 2008, when the blizzard, Costas said, gave Ralph Wilson Stadium and the surrounding area "a snow globe effect on television and American audiences were not used to seeing hockey this way."

Biron's paying tribute with Winter Classic mask

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

New York Rangers backup goalie Martin Biron's Winter Classic mask is a tribute to former Ranger goalie Gilles Gratton. (Photo: @thenyrangers)
When it came to designing a Winter Classic mask for New York Rangers backup Martin Biron, the idea of a tribute to Gilles Gratton jumped out for a lot of reasons.

Not only was the infamous ex-Rangers goalie a noted character – and with a nickname like "Gratoony the Loony" that may be an understatement – but like the player himself, Gratton's iconic 1976-77 Lion mask was one of the first "out there" paint jobs in the NHL. Add in the fact Gratton and Biron, also a noted character, were born within an hour's drive of each other in Quebec and are both Leos, and paying homage to it was a no-brainer.

"And Marty's middle name is Gaston, which even sounds like Gratton, so that's another really weird thing," joked Biron's personal painter, Steve Nash of EyeCandyAir. "As soon as we heard that the Rangers were playing the Winter Classic, Marty and I agreed it made sense because Gratton's mask was probably the coolest old Rangers mask we could think of, and we wanted something big and bold that would really stand out."

Staal, Wolski bring Toys for Tots awareness to 'Today'

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

"I think it's very important. In the position we're in, we're very blessed. We've been very fortunate over the years, so it's great to be able to give back. It's very special." -- Wojtek Wolski

NEW YORK -- Marc Staal and Wojtek Wolski spent part of their Wednesday morning making an appearance on NBC's "Today" to talk about the upcoming 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and help raise awareness about the Toys for Tots drive with Christmas right around the corner.

The Rangers, adorned in the Winter Classic jerseys they'll be wearing when they face the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park, spent time signing autographs before and after their segment. Appearing on national television for a charitable cause just hours before a scheduled practice is one of the unique aspects of playing hockey in New York.

Drizzle doesn't stop ice crew's progress on Day 2

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- A steady drizzle fell here at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, but it didn't serve as much of a deterrent during Day 2 of the rink build for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

After a first day that saw almost the entire sub-floor laid down for the main rink the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will skate on when the puck drops Jan. 2, 2012, Day 2 started with a plywood topping being laid down on top of the sub-floor decking.

After that was completed, a series of 30-foot long, 30-inch wide ice pans were installed and locked into place. Those pans eventually will be hooked up to the coolant hoses that will snake their way in from the Winter Classic ice truck parked outside the stadium, and will serve as the foundation for the creation of the ice surface.

"We're right where we're supposed to be," NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig told NHL.com. "I was hoping for another half a trailer off-load before lunch, but the rain … we got a little bit of rain coming in here, it's cooled down a little bit. It's slowed the guys up a bit, but we're doing all right."

Lundqvist creates antique feel for his Classic mask

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Henrik Lundqvist's shiny new goalie mask is anything but.

His painter, fellow Swede David Gunnarsson of DAVEART Designs fame, went to great lengths to make sure the New York Rangers' star had a lid stylistically suitable for the Winter Classic.

That meant making something brand new look old.

Parent tabs local artist for Winter Classic mask

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

During his distinguished NHL career, two-time Stanley Cup champion and Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie Parent might best be remembered for wearing a plain white mask, with just two or three Flyers decals on there.

No fancy paint jobs, no designs -- simple and plain.

That will change in a few weeks when Parent joins other former Flyers on the ice Dec. 31 for the Winter Classic Alumni Game against the New York Rangers.

Phillies' personnel excited to host Winter Classic

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- While construction was happening on the field at Citizens Bank Park here on Monday, the Philadelphia Phillies held a press conference to announce the team had re-signed shortstop Jimmy Rollins to a three-year contract.
Right now, though, Rollins' position on the infield is just about where the Flyers' blue line will be located.
Members of the Phillies' organization have had a prime seat for the early stages of the transformation of the baseball stadium into the venue for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, a process that took a giant step Monday with the arrival of the 53-foot ice truck that houses almost all the equipment needed to create the rink the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will skate on when the puck drops Jan. 2.

Craig's team of ice builders allow for confidence

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Dan Craig looks at his own lineup sheet for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and sees the variety he needs. There is a supervisor, two arena specialties advisors, two mechanics, five ice technicians, a specialist in piping and pumps and another guy whose area of expertise is in boards and construction.
The members of Craig's hand-picked team, his crew for the NHL's annual outdoor games, all have their own position and tasks. And, despite challenges that have ranged from wind, snow, rain, and the occasional broken down piece of integral equipment this team boasts a perfect record.
"We know each other, we know all the moves, and we know what everyone is capable of doing," said Rob Block, a mechanic who grew up with Craig in Jasper, Alberta. and has worked with him since the 2009 Winter Classic in Chicago. "I know what someone is going to do even before they do it. It's a team. We each have our own little job, our own little specialty, and we work on that and rely on that."
The 13-member team is referred to as Craig's ice crew, but that's a moniker that doesn't come close to encapsulating all that this team does. For instance, Block and Jake Fernholz are mechanics. Gord Young is an expert in constructing the boards and installing Plexiglass. Todd Hauschildt is who Craig turns to for his expertise on the piping and pumps. 
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