Tag: Dan Craig


Could the owner of the gray Ford Escape with Jersey plates please move your vehicle? You’re ruining the Winter Classic

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Today, NHL ice guru Dan Craig and his 53-foot refrigeration truck arrived at Citizens Bank Park in Philly, ready to begin building the rink for the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic.

Just one problem — this guy stole his parking spot:

Dan Rosen of NHL.com explained that nobody knew who the Ford Escape belonged to or why it was parked illegally (when the cops ran the plates, it came up as unregistered), but people around the ballpark were saying it had been there since early in the morning.

Flyers’ letter to season ticket holders confirms 2012 Winter Classic

Darroll Powe

On a rough day like this, it’s nice to think about a day that’s regularly been a joyous occasion for the NHL and hockey fans in general. The Winter Classic has been a marquee event for four years running and rumors that the Philadelphia Flyers would host the New York Rangers in the 2012 edition have been around for quite some time.

While it didn’t confirm that the event will take place at Citizens Bank Park, CSNPhilly.com’s Sarah Baicker reveals that the Flyers backed up the rumors that they will host the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic on January 2 via a letter to their season ticket holders.

A letter to season ticket holders included the following note:

“The Flyers will host the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic! You will notice that only 43 games are included in your ticket and parking book(s). Winter Classic tickets are not a part of your 2011-12 season ticket package. However, all full season ticket holders will have the ability to purchase up to same number of Winter Classic Packages as 2011-12 full season seats you own.”

Baicker points out that Citizens Bank Park is still the logical locale because the Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled to host the Washington Redskins during a game on New Year’s Day. (Even an ice guru like Dan Craig couldn’t reasonably be expected to get the ice ready for the next Winter Classic in a day.)

It might take time for other details of the 2012 Winter Classic to trickle in, so PHT will make sure to keep you updated as different aspects are made official.

Could weather concerns force the NHL to postpone the Heritage Classic?


It wouldn’t be an outdoor game in 2011 if we didn’t have concerns about the weather. In Pittsburgh, there were problems with rain that pushed the game from an afternoon start to the evening. In Calgary, the question isn’t rain. It’s that is just too freaking cold for the ice to stand up to the abuse of a hockey game. Who knew that moisture and cold temperatures could be a bad thing for ice?

On the eve of the Heritage Classic, we’re sitting here with a good news/bad news situation (depending on who you’re talking to). For the optimists, look no further than the players who practiced on the ice in the morning. Both the Habs and the hometown Flames participated in 1-hour practice sessions to test out the ice and the elements. Once they stepped off the ice, one of the first questions asked was, “How are the ice conditions?” Thankfully, the players are saying the right things.

Flames center Olli Jokinen pretty much summed up most of the players assessments when he said, “The ice was great. No complaints.” But he wasn’t alone in his optimism. Steve Staios played in the Heritage Classic back in 2003 when he was a member of the Edmonton Oilers. Back then, the cold weather was also the big concern and ended up being a problem. For a man who has experience playing in these conditions, he doesn’t sound very concerned:

“This is much better. It’s a lot better. There are a few areas where it chipped up and in ’03 there were a lot of areas like that. We were on it for as long as we were and I know they can do things between TV timeouts to patch it up and also in between periods.”

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows up in Calgary. Former NHL goaltender and current CBC broadcaster Glenn Healy was less than complimentary when he spoke of the ice conditions in McMahon Stadium:

“There’s no question that the ice for the alumni game was dangerous and was unsafe. It wasn’t one spot; it was in a couple of hundred spots.”


What a killjoy.

What we know is that the NHLPA has been in contact with the league about the ice conditions. The story as of tonight is that they’ll go out and reassess the ice tomorrow morning and start making decisions. In the event that the Heritage Classic had to be postponed due to unplayable ice conditions, the event would be moved to Monday.

The good news is there will be a lot less usage tomorrow than there was today. There were two practices, a public-type skate, and an alumni game on the ice surface today. All things told, they had about six hours of total usage throughout the day. Considering the worst thing for ice in these conditions is over usage, that shouldn’t be a problem tomorrow. The only thing planned for the ice surface tomorrow is some TLC from NHL ice guru Dan Craig and the hockey game. Speaking of Craig, he doesn’t seem too worried either:

“Our first skate was pretty good. Our second skate was probably a little chunky,” Craig said. “It’s still very cold out there. It tightened up that top surface so it got a little flaky, but other than that, I think we’ll be good. We just have a few things to do tonight and we’ll be ready to go.”


For the record, Sunday’s forecast in Calgary is 16 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 Celsius for our Canadian readers). The forecast calls for colder conditions than previously expected and is about 16 degrees below optimal conditions for an ice sheet. But as Staios said, there are things they can do during the intermissions and TV timeouts that can pacify the haters.

After listening to the players, announcers, and participants of the alumni game, the sun could be a bigger problem at the beginning of the game as it sets and creates a reflection off the ice. But I don’t think Dan Craig is going to be able to do anything about that.

Frigid weather could cause problems for 2011 Heritage Classic

Heritage Classic Hockey

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.

Final episode of 24/7 fills us with pride and sadness that it’s all over


Last night’s final episode was the crowning glory to what’s been a thrilling ride and it gave appropriate credence and attention to the game which this series was building up to.  HBO spent appropriate amounts of effort showing the tremendous work Dan Craig and his crew put into building and preparing the rink at Heinz Field for use during the Winter Classic. The efforts of him and his crew can’t be stated enough and HBO did them a great service to show off what they would do.

One of our highlights to last night’s episode was getting the inside look at the NHL phone conference to make the decision to postpone the game to 8 p.m. It’s a shining example to how serious the ice crews were about doing it right. It also showed us that Colin Campbell isn’t much of a talker on the phone. Perhaps he’s just a wordier guy through e-mail.

Having been in Pittsburgh during the days leading up to the Winter Classic it afforded me the chance to see how the HBO crews work behind the scenes and seeing how they were trailing every possible storyline and everyone involved was impressive.

For instance, they were tailing Caps GM George McPhee and a handful of Caps players at the AHL game held at CONSOL Energy Center on December 30. They hovered over McPhee for a good long time before moving on to guys like Karl Alzner and John Carlson who were there to watch the game and see former AHL teammates take on the Penguins farm team. There wasn’t a single rock left unturned which makes us cross our fingers that we’ll see a Blu Ray DVD set in the future with plenty of extras.

As for their coverage of the game, much like everything else that’s been done in this series, it was spectacular. Every in-game storyline that erupted was given the right amount of attention from Mike Rupp’s fight with John Erskine, to Sidney Crosby’s complaints about being hauled down on what was very nearly a breakaway, to hearing both teams do their bit of politicking to get more calls in their favor. Nothing was muted and nothing was underplayed. In a word it was all just perfect.

Being given access to both teams’ locker rooms between periods was a true treat and provided a bit of hands-on attention to the wicked hit Crosby took from David Steckel at the end of the second period. We’re no doctors here but it was clear that Crosby was stunned by the shot.

The closing was a beautiful end piece to what’s been a masterful production to help give hockey the glorious spotlight we know it deserves as fans and one that casual fans or never-were fans were able to latch on to and say, “Hey, maybe we should check this out.”

Seeing Caps coach Bruce Boudreau break out a Bud Light tallboy can to celebrate the win with his coaches or seeing Pens coach Dan Bylsma look just pained declaring how bad he wanted to win that game shows that even though the Winter Classic is still just a regular season game played on a grand and glorious stage, winning is the important thing.

We’re going to miss not having more 24/7 to look forward to and whether or not HBO chooses to do more work with hockey (a 24/7 following the Stanley Cup finals would be about the greatest thing we can think of) we’ve at least gotten this taste of life behind the scenes. Getting a closer look at the players in the more natural state in the locker rooms as well as at home made for a tremendous luxury we’ll not soon forget.