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Craig's crew can handle any weather at Stadium Series

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens and intrastate rival Philadelphia Flyers will be battling in the elements on Saturday night during their Stadium Series showdown at Heinz Field, which is expected to be the sixth-largest outdoor crowd in NHL history. 

Regardless of the weather conditions, the show will go on.

"We're going to make it happen and it happens," said Dan Craig, the NHL's ice guru. "That's the way it is."

Current weather forecasts are calling for thunderstorms on Saturday with the temperature dipping to 40 degrees at night. The players won't be the only people battling Mother Nature though.

Craig, whose official title is the NHL VP of Facilities Operations, and his crew will also be fighting against the weather conditions to ensure that the ice surface is at a higher standard than a normal NHL contest to ensure the safety of the players participating.

"We'll be watching the radar at 2:30 or 3 a.m. while everyone is nicely tucked into bed," Craig said. "We're very much in-tune with all the weather stations as far as what systems will come through at that particular time."

Craig has been overseeing the NHL's Winter Classics, Heritage Classics and Stadium Series events since their inception in the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008 between the Pens and Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The league has held games all over the country from St. Louis to Michigan to California.

The contest between the Pens and Flyers will be the 6th outdoor game this season alone. If the weather is warmer than anticipated, Craig's crew knows how to handle the situation.

"We've been in California for two games, Colorado was a warm day," Craig said. "We're prepared for it. We have all of our data out of those three venues. It's the same truck, same floor. It's just a matter of how much wind we have."

Craig and his staff have executed numerous outdoor matchups and have faced everything from heat and sun to snow to rain, including rain during the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field between Pittsburgh and Washington. The crew is well equipped to deal with whatever comes their way.

"Mother Nature does what she does and I just kind of roll with it," Craig said. "That's what the challenge is. That's why you do it. That's why we have the guys that we have. That's why we put together the crew that we have. That's why we have the truck. Because we know it's going to be a challenge.

"We've had events where there was a blizzard every second day. The guys muzzled through it. Snow comes, we remove it. Work the day. Snow comes, we remove it again. We've done water. We've done them all. We're ready. It's a good crew."

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