The NHL made a bold move by changing the start time of the Winter Classic based on the weatherman’s forecast at the same time Heinz Field was bathed in sunshine and balmy 55 degree New Year’s Eve weather. The decision to move the game was made just before 5 p.m. last night after speculation by players, coaches and media for most of the day.
Ice conditions on the Heinz Field rink deteriorated as the day went on and the sun turned the top of ice into a thin layer of mush by day’s end.
“The ice was great,” Penguins legend Mario Lemieux said about the ice conditions for the Alumni game. “A couple of times in the neutral zone, it puddled but they came out and fixed it.”
“Whatever the start time or whatever the delays, we just have to go with it,” noted Pens Superstar Sidney Crosby.
By the time Washington took the ice in the afternoon, the ice was much worse.
“It got a little sloppy there by the end,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle. “To stick-handle or make plays was virtually impossible toward the end, especially for a guy like me.”
One of the bigger issues facing NHL ice guru, Dan Craig is that no one really knows what the predicted one inch of rain will do to the surface since it have never been an issue before.
“You know what, they tell me there’s a risk, but I don’t know of too many hockey guys that have played in the rain before,” said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “…I would assume the ice will bevel and bump up and everything. But it’s the same for both teams, the same risks for both teams. So if it was gravel, it wouldn’t matter, you know.”
It’s raining in buckets this morning in Pittsburgh so if rain lingers longer than has been forecasted, the next opportunity for the game to be played will be at noon Eastern on Sunday.