Heritage Classic Hockey

Frigid weather could cause problems for 2011 Heritage Classic


Ideally, Calgary in February would be the most obvious environment for an outdoor hockey game. After all, the sport is supposed to be played in the hand-numbing-cold, right?

The concern is that Calgary’s weather might present a little too much of a good, cold thing on Sunday, though. Media members were supposed to play a friendly game on the 2011 Heritage Classic ice surface this morning, but NHL ice guru Dan Craig was forced to cancel the event after cracks appeared in the ice.

It’s true that the Jose Theodore wearing a Montreal Canadiens toque under his mask ended up being one of the enduring images of the original Heritage Classic, but there’s certainly a cut-off point in which cold weather can go from charming to dangerous. Craig apparently was able to get the ice surface to a safe level around 5 pm according to Dave Lozo’s story, so perhaps Craig was right when he said “it wasn’t a crisis, but it was a challenge.”

With similar forecasts to Friday’s -10 Celsius (or 14 degrees Fahrenheit) for Sunday, it sounds like Craig will face another challenging day during the NHL’s second outdoor game of the season.

Craig said the forecast calls for more of the same extremely low temperatures Saturday and Sunday, which means his crew will have to go through the same process it did Friday.

Saturday’s forecast from the Weather Channel calls for sunny skies and temperatures that will hover around minus-10 for the afternoon practices for the Canadians and Flames, as well as the late afternoon Alumni Game at McMahon Stadium. Sunday also calls for temps right around -10, as well as partly cloudy skies.

The game will have some serious playoff implications for both the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens, so one wonders what kind of impact such a bitterly cold game might have on both teams. Here is what two Flames players (captain Jarome Iginla and center Brendan Morrison) had to say about the icy temperatures to John Down of the Calgary Herald.

“I was pretty excited about it (weather) for awhile,” laughed Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, from the middle of a media crush following Friday afternoon’s skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “It was plus 2, plus 1, minus 1 and now I hear minus 11 or 10 or something so I’m not quite as excited but maybe it’ll change. If not, we’ll make the most of it.”

Nose icicles are bound to be the order of the day even with heaters at the players’ benches.

“My biggest concern?” repeated Brendan Morrison of the question. “How cold it’s going to be. I had a practice with my son’s team a little while ago and it was only minus 8 but by the end of the hour, my fingertips were frozen so that’s a concern.”

Sunday should be a great day of hockey fans all around North America, even if a few thousand up in Calgary might end up with a serious case of the sniffles.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)

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Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…

Two-for-two: Another successful coach’s challenge as Sens reverse Kane’s goal

Dave Cameron
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Coaches are quickly getting the hang of this challenge thing.

Following Mike Babcock’s successful challenge in Toronto’s opening-night loss to Montreal on Wednesday, Babcock’s provincial rival — Sens head coach Dave Cameron — got it right as well, successfully reversing Evander Kane‘s would-be equalizer in the third period.

From the league:

At 10:34 of the third period in the Senators/Sabres game, Ottawa requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Buffalo was off-side prior to Evander Kane’s goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Buffalo Sabres.

The clock is re-set to show 9:32 (10:28 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.

As the league later noted, this was the first coach’s challenge under the offside scenario.