Few arena crews faced a challenge like the Staples Center gang did last night, as they were forced to prepare playoff-caliber ice for the Los Angeles Kings shortly after an overtime NBA game for the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet even with a more manageable gap between Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals contests, Stephen Whyno reports that the heat in DC had the Verizon Center crew on their toes.
“The guys who drive the Zamboni and maintain the ice, they’re looking for it whether it’s January and it’s 30 degrees out or it’s april and it’s 90 degrees out,” arena senior vice president and general manager Dave Touhey said in a phone interview. “But when it’s April and it’s 90 degrees out, that’s an abnormality. When it’s 90 degrees out, you pay more attention to it.”
That means several layers of protection, including turning the temperature down from the usual mid-to-upper-50s down to the lower 50s. While that seems like a small change, it can make a big difference.
“We normally have processes that we go through to maintain the NHL standards. Now we’re taking readings every hour to make sure where we are as opposed to just monitoring it,” Touhey said. “We’re just monitoring it more closely to make sure that we’re down where we want to be.”
The Capitals and Boston Bruins combined for a measly four goals through the first two games of the series – which included an overtime and double overtime contest – so it’s not like the teams could blame choppy ice for shoddy offense. Still, as much as an ice crew can do, don’t be surprised if we’re in for another low-scoring affair.
(Did I just jinx the two goalies?)