The Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators are due to square off tonight in Baltimore, Maryland at the 1st Mariner Arena to give fans there a taste of NHL action. With Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Ryan Suter, and Shea Weber all scheduled to play tonight to give the hockey fans in Baltimore a look at what goes on down the road in D.C. and elsewhere around the NHL, the event is a big deal for the Capitals to spread the game further out around the mid-Atlantic region.
As will happen when you’re playing outside the confines of your home arena, sometimes there will be problems. In the case of 1st Mariner Arena, their problems appear to be major ones that could bring the safety of the players into question. Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times tells us about how cracks in the ice visible as far away as the press box are causing concern for tonight’s scheduled game.
But quietly, players were less than complimentary of the rink, calling it “a little rough” or worse. From a few rows up in the stands, it looked sloppy.
But Boudreau pointed out that players understand the situation.
“They’re aware. They skate on it. They know it better than me. But what can you do? Both teams are there; it’s an ice surface,” he said. “They’ve played on, in their lives, some ice surfaces that weren’t really up to snuff – and I’m not saying this won’t be, but they’re going to be working on it today.”
Update: As of 4 p.m., there were big cracks in the ice visible as high up as the press box.
The NHL likes to do preseason games outside of the home arenas to help expand the visibility of the game and for the Capitals, going into Baltimore for a game more than makes sense. Asking the players to deal with ice that at least looks as bad as this does puts everyone on the ice in jeopardy. Soft ice is one thing, but ice that appears to be damaged with cracks in it comes about as close to possible as being unplayable.
Let’s hope that either the ice is repaired enough to be playable (poorly so, but still) or that they’ll make the right move and postpone the game if the conditions are indeed that terrible.
Update (5:01 p.m.): According to Whyno, a Caps spokesman insists that the cracks that are visible are below the surface of the ice and will not affect play on the ice.
(Photo courtesy of Sky Kerstein on Twitter)