RALEIGH, N.C.January 25, 2000 - An unprecedented snow storm that dropped as much as 20 inches on North Carolina forced the postponement of Tuesday night's game pitting the Phoenix Coyotes against the Carolina Hurricanes.
A state of emergency declared by Gov. Jim Hunt prompted Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford to call the NHL and ask that the game be postponed. The league granted that wish Tuesday afternoon.
"The governor has told people to stay off the road and you don't want to jeopardize safety," Rutherford said in a telephone interview from his home, where he's snowed in.
No makeup date was scheduled.
Phoenix will try to get to Atlanta in the morning for its game with the Thrashers on Wednesday night, but Raleigh-Durham International Airport is closed.
"We're trapped like rats," said Phoenix coach Bob Francis. "We're three miles down the road (in a hotel) from where we should be playing and we can't play."
Francis said he would like to play the game.
"From my standpoint, I'm not crazy about the whole scenario. We didn't skate Monday because we spent all day traveling from West to East, so you lose the hours and the ability to skate and then today we haven't skated," he said. "We will have been off the ice for 48 hours and we'll have to step right into a game situation."
Rutherford, who was a goaltender in the NHL for 13 seasons, said he was involved in a postponement once as a player in Detroit. He said he also played games in which snow prevented all but a few hundred fans from attending.
"It was almost like having a scrimmage," he said. "It really shows how important the fans are to making the game exciting."
Phoenix, in a first-place battle with Dallas in the Pacific Division, only returns to the East Coast one more time this season. But games with Montreal and Toronto are on consecutive nights.
"It is probably going to put us in an unfortunate predicament down the road as far as the schedule is concerned," said Francis. "You only come out East so often and there are only so many places to plug games in.
"You look at the main roads on TV and it doesn't look that bad, but then you get in the subdivisions and they're unpassable. Our first concern is for the safety of the fans and the players," Francis added.
Rutherford laughed when asked if he ever thought he would see this much snow after the team move from Hartford, Conn., to North Carolina three years ago.
"This was not in the grand plan," he said.
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Copyright © 2000 Associated Press