In two different NHL arenas, there were two emphatic complaints about the ice on Sunday.
The first complaint was launched by Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, after his team defeated Detroit, 1-0, in overtime at Joe Louis Arena.
“I know the ice was the same for both teams, but the quality of the ice today was just horrendous,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post. “When you can’t put two passes together because the puck is bouncing all over the place, makes it very hard on both players, who have some skill. It makes it hard to put that skill on display.”
The second complaint came from Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, following a 3-2 loss to Chicago at United Center.
“This ice is the worst ice I’ve seen in my career,” said the 36-year-old netminder, a guy who’s been in the NHL since 2002.
Perhaps Miller was upset about the loss, but the winning goalie at United Center was Corey Crawford, and Crawford himself is no fan of the ice in many NHL buildings.
“I’ve always thought the real issue (with the lack of scoring) isn’t goalie equipment,” he said recently, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “The issue is ice. If you can make ice like the way it is in Colorado, the way it is in Washington, Edmonton — you make the conditions like that for every game in every rink, guys are going to score. … Massive difference between battling with the puck and making sure it’s going to be on the ice, and just playing. … You watch a game where the ice is just horse[bleep], it makes a huge difference.”
We wonder if Crawford has heard that the ice in Edmonton isn’t actually that good anymore.
Outspoken agent Allan Walsh weighed in on the topic Sunday.
“Hearing from players that generally the quality of ice league-wide is getting worse,” Walsh tweeted. “Over time, can lead to groin, back and hip issues.”
Now, to be fair, it’s not an easy task, making good ice in buildings that also host basketball and concerts and whatever else.
But if the quality of the playing surface is, indeed, getting worse, then it’s a problem that the NHL needs to address. Whether it’s sending more experts to help, or even cracking down on teams whose buildings don’t meet the standard, something needs to be done, because the entertainment product is at stake.
P.S. — Sunday in Pittsburgh, there weren’t any emphatic complaints about the playing surface at PPG Paints Arena, but there was a lengthy ice-related delay that sent the Penguins and Bruins to the dressing rooms with 6:26 remaining in the first period.
Pens d-man Ian Cole called it “a pretty good hole” in the ice.
“They got it slush-filled, and then the ref came over and checked it and it was just slush,” Cole said, per the Post-Gazette. “It wasn’t even close to ice, so they were like, ‘OK, we need to do a little more work on it.'”