NEW YORK -- NHL senior manager of facilities operations and ice guru Mike Craig had his crew spending most of Tuesday removing the foot of snow that fell on Yankee Stadium over the course of the evening.
The winter storm put a sizable halt to the work they were hoping to do in preparation for the two games the stadium will host as part of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, with the New York Rangers facing the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 26 and the New York Islanders on Jan. 29.
In fact, there was still plenty of snow to clear when Craig's crew arrived Wednesday morning at 5:30 am. But with a large group volunteering their shoveling services, the snow was eventually cleared, paving the way for the next step in the Yankee Stadium transformation.
"[Tuesday], it wasn't just our guys out here. We had the whole NHL event staff, the Yankee Stadium crew here was phenomenal. They were out here with us removing snow all night. It's a big group effort," said Craig, who was about to begin the process of painting the surface. "We paint it white, we build up the sheet a little bit, then put our lines and logos. Then we flood it to the point we're able to skate over the lines and logos. We'll be doing that for close to 24 hours a day until Saturday morning when we get ready for the first people who step on the ice."
Painting the rink had to be pushed back as the sun emerged Wednesday afternoon, forcing Craig's crew to continue to work on the ice. Fortunately, the vertical alignment of Yankee Stadium shields parts of the ice from sun more than traditional football stadiums, which tend to be more wide open and flat.
"This [stadium], we only get three quarters of the rink covered by sun. It allows us to catch up a little bit here and get a pretty good start to the afternoon," Craig said. "Today, [the sun] stalled us a little. So we're a few hours behind. But later tonight we'll get everything done."
Craig likely won't be leaving Yankee Stadium until 2 a.m. Thursday morning before coming back hours later. But it's all part of the process of turning the home of the Bronx Bombers into a two-game winter wonderland.
"That's what our crew is here for. We're here to get this job done. No complaints. Everyone comes with a smile on their face," said Craig, who still enjoys taking a moment here and there to take in his surroundings at Yankee Stadium. "From what I've seen, it's spectacular. It's a great spot. Home of the New York Yankees, can't ask for much more."
Author: Tal Pinchevsky | NHL.com Staff Writer