-- Dan Craig has given the thumbs up, and it's all systems go here at Citizens Bank Park for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, which is scheduled for a 3 p.m. ET start time (NBC, CBC, RDS).
"We're good," Craig, the NHL's Senior Director of Facilities Operations, told NHL.com shortly after 11 a.m. Monday.
Seeing that direct sunlight was beating on the ice at the time NHL.com spoke to Craig, he said the League's decision Sunday to change the start time of the game between the Flyers and Rangers from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. was excellent foreshadowing.
"The glare of the sun would have created a player-safety issue. I know we've been talking about ice, ice, ice, but we deal not just with ice surface here. It all goes back to player safety" -- Dan Craig
If Craig had to let the Flyers and Rangers on the ice at 1 p.m., he said there would have been player-safety concerns.
"It all comes down to heat from direct sunshine against the boards," Craig said. "The first foot along the boards would have been very soft, which would have created a player-safety issue. The glare of the sun would have created a player-safety issue. I know we've been talking about ice, ice, ice, but we deal not just with ice surface here. It all goes back to player safety."
By 3 p.m., Craig said the sun will be off the ice, meaning the glare will be gone, as well. The lines and logos as well as the area in front of the benches, where the sun is the strongest, have been protected by insulated tarps all morning. The colder temperature (low 40s) means Craig doesn't have to cover the entire sheet of ice with the tarps as he did Sunday in between the practice sessions.
There could be some wind at puck drop, but how strong remains to be seen.
"The wind is not as strong down here as it is up on the street right now, which is absolutely opposite to what it was last week at this time," Craig said. "We will just take it hour by hour right now."
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