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NHL ice crew does final prep for Dodger, Yankee stadium rink builds

Jan 24, 2014, 8:53 AM EDT

This will be a weekend of firsts for hockey. The first matches of the Stadium Series, the first NHL games hosted in Yankee and Dodgers Stadium, and for that matter, the first time the NHL will host regular season outdoor games on back-to-back days.

That’s created a lot of challenges for NHL senior director of facilities operations Dan Craig and senior manager of facilities operations Mike Craig, but with the Los Angeles Kings set to face the Anaheim Ducks and the New Jersey Devils getting ready to take on the New York Rangers, everything should be ready for their contests.

That’s despite some of the last minute headaches they’ve faced in Yankee Stadium. Their task of painting the ice was delayed by a snowstorm on Tuesday that dumped about a foot of snow onto the rink. Facing a hard deadline, the Yankee Stadium crew teamed up with the NHL event staff to clear the rink so that they could resume their work.

“We paint it white, we build up the sheet a little bit, then put our lines and logos,” Mike Craig told NHL.com. “Then we flood it to the point we’re able to skate over the lines and logos. We’ll be doing that for close to 24 hours a day until Saturday morning when we get ready for the first people who step on the ice.” (See more here.)

Snow obviously hasn’t been an obstacle at Dodger Stadium, but trying to host a game in Southern California presents its own set of challenges.

After the snow was cleared in New York City, their work was furthered postponed because the sun starting beating down on the ice Wednesday afternoon. That caused them to shift their efforts to working on the ice itself. If that’s an issue in New York in January, you can imagine the potential for problems in Los Angeles.

Their solution to that was to take the sun out of the equation entirely. At Dodger Stadium they have been shielding the ice in reflective blankets while the sun’s out. Its meant working nights, but the results have been encouraging.

“I was shocked how level (the ice) was and how good a job Dan (Craig) had already done because usually the first time you step on the ice it’s never really good,” said Kings president Luc Robitaille, according to NHL.com, after testing out the ice on Wednesday.

Dan Craig isn’t quite satisfied yet, but the heavy lifting is done. Now it’s about fine-tuning the surface by careful positioning of an ice-making truck. In Los Angeles, the when counts as much as the where though, because in addition to the sun, the humidity has increasingly become an obstacle. (See more here.)

These cities have presented the NHL with two very different sets of challenges and because the games will be happening on Saturday (Ducks-Kings, 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and Sunday (Rangers-Devils, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), they’ve been forced to divide the rink-builders crew into two teams for the first time.

In just a couple more days, the fruits of their efforts will be enjoyed by four teams and NHL fans from coast-to-coast.

Related:

Q&A: Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Miller talks Mighty Ducks movies, Cheers and Stadium Series

Yankee Stadium rink build delayed by winter storm

Dodgers prez: Conditions ‘should be fine’ for Ducks-Kings outdoor game

Ducks unveil Stadium Series jerseys

Kings unveil Stadium Series jerseys

  1. polegojim - Jan 24, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Cool set of circumstances – outdoor games are fun… but hope no one gets hurt from the LA ice when there’s no reflective shield…. when guys are skating on it for 20… and when the Zamboni’s come out to resurface and it barely refreezes…

  2. ipaintrinks - Jan 24, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    way to recycle that video.

  3. 950003cups - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    It’s gonna be 19 in NYC. We’re not worried about the ice freezing after resurfacing.
    We just hope the Zamboni starts up. I was smart not to buy tickets. I figured if the weather was a perfect 30 degrees, I’ll overpay by +100. But if the conditions were bad, like rain, I’ll save it all, or being 19 degrees (the high) all day, I’m already seeing tickets at half off.

    • nj666 - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      wow you’re a terrible fan…

    • bh0673 - Jan 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      He has a point if it is as cold as it is now it isn’t going to be fun sitting out there no matter how warm you dress couple that with the possibility of more snow tomorrow it could deter some people from going which could drive down prices on the secondary market below face value.
      On the other side of the coin as a Yankee season ticket holder who knows the stadium very well I have to think a lot of the seats are going to be a distance from the rink and not provide that great a view.

  4. nj666 - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    Did they even mention the new york game? you know the one thats actually going to make sense outside…

  5. cspsrbums - Jan 24, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Well it would be nice if the NHL would allow all the teams play in a outdoor game before others get 4 or 5 games Pitt, NYR and others what a joke

    • nj666 - Jan 24, 2014 at 1:34 PM

      I hear ya. I thought the devils would never get an outdoor game by the nhl’s pattern of winter “classic” teams.

    • shortsxit34 - Jan 24, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      It’s amazing, isn’t it? I get that they can’t do games in warm climates (tomorrow could prove me wrong), but they could at least have the visiting team be in their first game.

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