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(Page 6 of 11)
2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Capitals v. Penguins

Craig starts to prepare the ice at Heinz Field

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- The snowfall here forced the ice crew to turn the hoses off for a few hours Sunday afternoon, but since they were already ahead of schedule it isn't that big of an issue.

"We got slowed up a little bit this morning because we had snow flurries come through, but we got it cleaned up right now and we're waiting for the hot water to get kicked in in the building because we want to melt off the top layer before we get started again," NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told NHL.com. "We have a little over a half an inch done from what we did last night, and we're ready to go."

Despite the inclement weather Craig is still in good spirits. Instead of spraying water, the crew was hard at work measuring out the specs for the goal crease and creating the holes in the ice for the moorings. They were able to set in some of the sensors that get frozen into the middle of the ice.

And, soon enough they'll turn the hoses back on and start building some more ice. The good news is it's cold here so the water is freezing in a matter of minutes. They've got about another inch to build before they can start painting white.
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Renzulli talks setup for Winter Classic

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Don Renzulli has been doing this long enough to know what to expect Monday afternoon when he's scheduled to answer questions from the local media.

"The big questions we're going to start to get will be all about weather," Renzulli, the NHL's Senior V.P. of Events, told NHL.com Sunday. "That's what the stories for the week will be about now. They're going to start talking about it on television."

Renzulli doesn't disparage the storyline. He understands it's valid considering the current weather forecast for New Year's Day.

Rain and temperatures in the low to mid 50s doesn't exactly scream outdoor hockey weather.

But, anything Renzulli says now will simply be speculation. Even the most accurate weatherman in the world wouldn't be able to say with certainty that the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic would have to be delayed or postponed until Jan. 2.
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NHL.com's Q&A with Dan Craig

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Dan Craig picked up a call on his radio. On the other end was one of his guys from the ice truck asking him about pressure gauges?

Craig, the NHL's Facilities Operations Manager, could have just given an answer and continued on with his interview with NHL.com. But, after spending the past three NHL Winter Classics getting to know the man, you all could have probably predicted what he was going to do next.

Craig stopped dead in his tracks and radioed back, "Stay right where you are, I'll be there in two seconds."

He wasn't kidding.

In a matter of seconds the issue was getting his immediate and undivided attention. Soon enough it would be resolved.

Craig, as he is every year at this time, is a man on a mission. His goal is to have the rink at Heinz Field ready to go by noon on Dec. 30, more than enough time to test out the ice before the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day.

Knock on wood, Craig is ahead of schedule, which is why he was in such a jovial mood when he did eventually spend some time with NHL.com around 3 o'clock Saturday afternoon:
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Winter Classic Truck arrives in Pittsburgh

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Jim Fraser turned the ignition key to rev up the NHL's refrigeration truck and begin his route from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh at around 9 o'clock Thursday night. A truck driver going on three decades now, Fraser figured this road trip would be a breeze.

The weather in D.C. was clear. The truck was gassed up. There would be no traffic. Heinz Field would be in his sights by 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning, enough time for him to get about six hours of sleep before he had to move the truck into its final parking space not far from the loading dock.

It all looked good on paper, felt good in his mind. He had the Penguins-Capitals game on the radio, but then it happened.

"I got about an hour and a half out of the city and ran into a snow storm," Fraser told NHL.com Friday afternoon, roughly six hours after he safely and somewhat miraculously arrived at Heinz Field. "They had the interstate closed in Maryland so I got off into a secondary two-lane highway with let's say 7 to 10 percent grade hills that weren't salted, weren't plowed yet. I believe I was the first lucky soul to go there, and when you're dealing with that you don't want to be that guy, do you? Never.

"It was an experience, believe me."

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Steelers excited about Winter Classic

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- He has zero hockey background -- and at 6-foot-1 and 325 pounds, Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton doesn't exactly blend into a hockey crowd.

Big deal.

Hampton is a huge Penguins' fan -- in more ways than one. But Hampton is also a jealous Penguins fan because it certainly appears that his day job will prevent him from enjoying the festivities that will take place on his home field come New Year's Day.

The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field isn't designed to accommodate the Steelers' travel schedule for their game in Cleveland on Jan. 2, and Hampton -- as big as he is -- doesn't exactly have the power to overrule his boss, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, who also happens to be a Penguins fan.
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Steelers exec's love for Pens is deep

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"I'll probably end up in a box at some point, although the day before I'm going to be able to drop by the alumni game and see what that is like. We have the other rink that is going to be up by Christmas Eve outside of the stadium that we'll get some time to skate out here. I just think the whole experience is going to be awesome." -- Kevin Colbert

PITTSBURGH -- Kevin Colbert is hemming and hawing, and it has nothing to do with the state of the football team he has constructed in the Steel City.
 
Colbert has been the Pittsburgh Steelers Director of Football Operations for 11 seasons, but a Pittsburgh Penguins' season ticket holder for almost four times as long. He'll be at Heinz Field for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day, but he has to decide if he wants to sit in his luxury box or out in the cold with the people, his fellow Penguins' fanatics.
 
"I'll probably get as much as the experience as I can, and by saying that I am covering myself in case it's real cold," Colbert joked to NHL.com. "I'll probably end up in a box at some point, although the day before I'm going to be able to drop by the alumni game and see what that is like. We have the other rink that is going to be up by Christmas Eve outside of the stadium that we'll get some time to skate out here. I just think the whole experience is going to be awesome."
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Myles learning all he can to get ready for Classic

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

"I'm excited for when the puck drops, but the amount of equipment, supplies and everything else that goes into this, and we can't forget anything. It is a little bit of pressure to make sure we have everything, but the most excited I'll be is when we walk out there for the first time in a game situation and see what it is all about." -- Brock Myles, Washington Capitals equipment manager

WASHINGTON -- Brock Myles has some experience outfitting the Washington Capitals for outdoor hockey, but maybe not quite like what he and the team will experience Jan. 1 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Myles, the team's head equipment manager, has helped the Capitals prepare for practices on an outdoor rink at Chevy Chase Club in suburban Washington, D.C. in past years, but those workouts were in front of a small group of fans. The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, at a football stadium with the capacity for more than 65,000 fans, is a little different.

"For a guy like me it is more … I wouldn't say nervous, but kind of getting prepared," Myles said. "I'm excited for when the puck drops, but the amount of equipment, supplies and everything else that goes into this, and we can't forget anything. It is a little bit of pressure to make sure we have everything, but the most excited I'll be is when we walk out there for the first time in a game situation and see what it is all about."

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Pens-Caps rivalry stops at equipment room door

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"Our first time around experiencing the Winter Classic was so much fun and I really take my hat off to the Sabres staff. Personally and for the Pittsburgh Penguins it was a storybook ending, but I sit back and think about how those guys worked really hard and treated us great. Now we want to reciprocate." -- Dana Heinze, Pittsburgh Penguins equipment manager

PITTSBURGH -- A strong loathing for the other side permeates nearly every corner of the present-day rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. That's part of what makes it so enticing to the fans and the media, and why the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic arguably is the most anticipated in the series.

However, those sour feelings haven't spread through the equipment room doors. That's where mutual respect and brotherhood get top billing.

Ranked high among the many items on Dana Heinze's Winter Classic agenda is the need to make sure his counterpart from Washington, Brock Myles, receives nothing short of first-class treatment from the moment the Capitals touch down in Pittsburgh until the second they leave.

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NHL, NBC Sports launch unique integration of Facebook and broadcast TV

"NHL Winter Classic Fan Challenge" integrates Facebook into TV

NHL.com

NEW YORK – The National Hockey League and NBC Sports today unveiled a unique promotional campaign that integrates Facebook into the New Year's Day broadcast of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® (1 p.m. ET, NBC). The "Watch And Win" promotion will allow viewers a chance to win great prizes such as a Honda CR-Z sport hybrid coupe, and trips for four to both Universal Orlando Studios and the 2011 NHL® All-Star Game.

This year's NHL Winter Classic features two of the game's biggest stars as Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins take on Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.

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Storylines once again dominate Pens-Caps rivalry

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

It's an appetizer sampler served cold over an arena chill eight days before the main course fills us up with a frigid buffet served on an icy gridiron. Or, in more succinct terms, it's the NHL's Indoor Game of the Year -- for now.
 
Pittsburgh at Washington.
 
Chapter One. The Preview. The Pre-Christmas Classic. The HBO Showdown.
 
Anyone who thinks this game is strictly for two points and nothing more is not aware of the history these teams have shared for the past half-decade.
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