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Craig ready to begin the Winter Classic crunch

by Dan Rosen /
PHILADELPHIA -- The NHL's refrigeration truck was finally parked on Hartranft Street outside Citizens Bank Park at approximately 9:53 Monday morning. NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig was here well before, waiting to get started on Day 1 of the buildout for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

By noon Monday, the first pieces of the rink's subfloor were being placed down and connected like a puzzle while the ice pans that connect the base of the rink to the truck outside the stadium were being hauled in on fork lifts. Outside, workers were beginning to connect the pipe to the truck.

Craig appeared in charge and at ease despite walking briskly from location to location with a radio seemingly attached to his ear. He's been to this stadium enough times to know all its ins and outs, nooks and crannies, so he's comfortable in this element. He's also thrilled to be back doing another NHL outdoor game, the seventh of his career.

Dan Craig is well underway in beginning the rink build for the 2012 Winter Classic.
There have only been six others in the League's history, including four Winter Classics and two Heritage Classics.

Craig stopped for a moment Monday to chat with for a Q&A about the beginning stages of the buildout, and what lies ahead. We can look out on the field today and see flooring being laid out, the ice pans waiting to be put down, and outside your guys are working on connecting the piping to the truck. What can we look for being totally done by just the end of today?

Craig: We are going to have half the main decking down, which is the subfloor that we're going to put our panels on. We're going to have our hoses from the truck all the way to our junction boxes, so tomorrow morning we can start offloading our containers and putting down our auxiliary rink. It's really the preliminary of what we want to get done, and it gives us a good gauge to what is going to happen in the next couple of days prior to the 24th. When do you want to have the ice pans down and connected?

Craig: When I want to or when they're scheduled to be? I want them down tonight, but they're scheduled to be down by 4 o'clock on the 21st and hopefully we can fill our pipe and our lines up with glycol at that point. And then we'll get the truck ready to fire up. What about the first spray of water, when do you imagine that will be?

Craig: I'm saying probably, but it all depends on what Mother Nature does it for us, about 7 o'clock at night on the 22nd. If you look at the immediate weather report you see sun. What about beyond that for your purposes?


'24/7' brings fans up close

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HBO unveiled the second edition of "24/7: The Road to the Winter Classic" bringing fans up close to the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers before their outdoor game on Jan. 2. READ MORE ›
Craig: The thing is, they tell us tomorrow is going to be a really warm day and then we could possibly be into showers for the next few days. That's when you start to look at the weather systems coming in and how much water is within the system, and is it worth it for us to go out there and starting spraying prior to us departing on the 23rd, or do we just let everything circulate and come back and run hard from the 26th through until the 30th. Is that where the time factor gives you that ability, whereas last year you didn't have that considering you took over Heinz Field late at night on the 23rd and had to be ready by Dec. 31.

Craig: I didn't have any choice last year but to run. Run and run hard. So, do you find yourself much more at ease now knowing that the time crunch isn't there like it was last year?

Craig: Oh yeah, but the thing is, it's still a crunch. The only thing is the option we have is, are we going home? That's the option. It's not whether I want to go home, it's am I going to go home? That's two-and-a-half to three days of time out on the field, and do I need it out on the field or do I need it for my personal time. That's my choice. You said your flight home for a holiday break would be at 5:30 p.m. on the 23rd. If you can get on that flight, does that mean the work that needs to be done by 5:30 on the 23rd has gotten done?

Craig: Well, more than likely what will happen is if I'm going home on the 23rd we probably won't be spraying any water or doing anything until I get back on the 26th. Then it's going to be 16 hours a day, 18 hours a day, 20 hours a day spraying water. That's where the crunch could come in.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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