Part of the appeal of the NHL’s Winter Classic is playing in the elements – snow has fallen during each one so far. But in Pittsburgh, the kind of precipitation expected on Saturday isn’t what the league wants: rain.
Weather reports have rain predicted for Saturday afternoon, which presents the league with a dilemma for the event COO John Collins says is like “the league’s Super Bowl.”
The ice can withstand the rain (though with enough precipitation, it will suffer) and the predicted high temperatures (forecasts have the weather possibly hitting the 50s), but a rainy afternoon would be more problematic for both the fans and players.
If the rain, as predicted, hits Pittsburgh, Collins said that the league has “maximum flexibility” in regards to the time of the game; one option, he said, was to push it back in the day, but he also said they have the option to play on January 2nd. And even though rain isn’t what the league wants, Collins said it’s “part of taking an indoor game outdoors.”
“The weather is part of the game’s DNA,” Collins said on Thursday. He said the league expects to play the game on Saturday, but that “elements are part of the story…part of what makes it great.”
The league – and fans, especially those with the high-priced tickets – will be watching the weather reports closely the next few days, but Collins doesn’t expect to make any kind of announcement about contingency plans for Saturday.
Be sure to follow reporter Tyler Radecki on Twitter (@tylerradecki) for Winter Classic notes, quotes, and updates from the Alumni Game, practices, and the game itself.