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Diamond family spending Christmas at the rink

by Adam Kimelman /
PHILADELPHIA -- For the Diamond family, it was a very different Christmas celebration.

Kevin Diamond; his son, also named Kevin; and his brother, Mike, shifted their usual work quarters from the temperature-controlled environment of the Wells Fargo Center for the outdoor rink being built next door at Citizens Bank Park.

The Diamonds work on the ice crew at the Wells Fargo Center, but when the chance to work on the rink that will be used by the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic came, there was no question they would want to be involved.

Kevin Sr. and Mike were part of the crew that helped put together the rink at Fenway Park for the 2010 Winter Classic between the Flyers and Boston Bruins, but to be part of the Classic crew in their hometown is a big deal.

"It's pretty special," Kevin Sr. told "Being from Philadelphia and being in this stadium, which I've been here lots of times for Phillies games, and to see the rink in the middle of it, it feels pretty cool."

Kevin Sr., 46, has been making ice for Flyers games at the Spectrum and Wells Fargo Center for 27 years. He's been joined the last three years by his son, Kevin Jr., now 19. Mike Diamond, 53, has been working with Kevin Sr. for 16 years.

The trio works as part of the Flyers' game-day operations ice crew, but being able to work the Classic together -- on Christmas -- makes for a little bit more than the usual dose of fun.

"It's a real family atmosphere," Mike told

It's also a learning experience. Kevin Sr. and Mike got a first-hand look at how NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig and his crew work two years ago, and relished the chance to job on board with them again.

"Dan's very experienced," said Mike. "He gives us a lot of help with stuff. He's pretty good."

Craig told he enjoys having the local NHL team's ice crew take part in the Classic rink build. Not only for the extra manpower -- he said by next week there will be six members of the Wells Fargo Center ice crew helping -- but in building relationships with the ice crews in different cities. When he's not building outdoor ice rinks in baseball stadiums, Craig's regular job is overseeing the playing surfaces in all 30 buildings and making sure each has the best ice possible. Knowing more than names and e-mails makes his life a lot easier.

"It gives not only them but us relationships," said Craig. "They build good relationships all the way around -- for the locals, for the National Hockey League. We have guys from Chicago (on his crew), we have guys from Montreal, we have guys from Minnesota, we have guys form Winnipeg. All of a sudden you turn around and we've got guys from six different cities all working together. Everybody's a big happy family and it's all for the betterment of hockey."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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