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.