Tag: postponement

Northeast Snow

Winter storm postpones tonight’s Bruins-Lightning in Boston


The NHL has postponed tonight’s game in Boston between the Bruins and Lightning.

Thanks to winter storm “Nemo,” nearly two feet of snow fell in in the city of Boston forcing a state of emergency and stopping all rail travel until tomorrow.

What makes this situation a bit different than other weather-affected instances is that both teams were already in Boston and tonight’s officials were in town ready to play. The conditions in Boston itself, however, changed the league’s mind as travel conditions were deemed too hazardous for fans, arena workers, and security officials to make it to TD Garden.

The game was initially supposed to be played at 1 p.m. but was postponed to 7 p.m. tonight. The NHL says they’ll have a make-up date announced as soon as they’ve got one. The condensed schedule makes rescheduling this game a bit tricky. Both teams have games elsewhere tomorrow as the Bruins visit the Sabres and the Lightning are headed to New York City to face the Rangers.

Did the NHL make a mistake not postponing tonight’s game in New Jersey?

Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils
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It’s odd when the weather is discussed so much for a game that 99.9% of the time is played indoors, but with a snowstorm slamming the northeast games in Long Island and Newark, New Jersey came directly under fire from mother nature. The Islanders petitioned the league to get their game postponed and were turned down, meanwhile the Devils game went off without the league seemingly taking the conditions outside into account.

While the weather was bad in Long Island, things seemed to be worse (or at least taken more seriously) in New Jersey. Throughout tonight’s game as the Devils dropped a 4-1 decision to the Maple Leafs, the snow piled up and the winds blew fiercely causing Newark Airport to shut down, New Jersey transit service in Newark to shutdown at 8:30 this evening, and a state of emergency declared in New Jersey because of the snow.  If that sounds bad for the NHL, it does.

Tonight’s attendance at Prudential Center was announced as being 5,329 but as you can see from the photo above, that’s a pretty generous amount. Given what was going on outside the arena, was it right for the game to have even been played tonight? We’re thinking it wasn’t and for obvious reasons.

First off, the safety of the fans that did make it to the game is put in great danger. Because those tickets cost so much money, some fans feel pressured to go to the game so they don’t end up wasting that money spent. That leads to them either taking a bus, train, or driving to the game and then taking a chance with their safety or, as what happened tonight, losing a method of transportation home. Imagine what would happen should someone get in a serious car accident or end up stranded in Newark all because they didn’t call the game off. That makes for horrible publicity and something the NFL took very seriously in postponing Sunday night’s game in Philadelphia until Tuesday.

Another thing to keep in mind is the safety of the teams, notably the visiting Maple Leafs. The Leafs bus got stuck in the snow after the game on their way back to the hotel. The team’s flight out of New Jersey was canceled thanks to the weather. The Leafs play again on Tuesday back in Toronto so getting back home in time for that isn’t an issue. If they had a game tomorrow, however, that would’ve made for a major problem. The Devils don’t play again until Wednesday at home against the Rangers.

That attendance number is miserable and completely understandable from the fan’s perspective. No one wants to go out when the weather is that bad and for anyone who bought tickets to the game, it’s a colossal waste of money for them to not go. Just think, if you took your family to the game you’re looking at eating a few hundred dollars worth of tickets. Factor in the transportation issues and there’s very little reason for fans to even want to go and given that some of those problems didn’t pop up until the game was already under way there’s no telling how many fans were literally left in the cold by taking a chance in even going to the game.

Finally, how happy do you think the Devils were to have to play a game tonight with such a small crowd? That puts the bite on them to bring in the full staff of security, maintenance, and concession workers to babysit a small gathering of fans. That means paying them for their full shift of work and likely not turning a profit on the night in beer, food, and merchandise sales. If you’ve got 18,000 fans there that’s one thing. If it’s just 5,000 that makes for a brutal financial loss on the night. The Devils did a nice thing for those fans that did show up by inviting everyone to come sit in the lower bowl of the arena, but that’s more to help make things look nicer on television.

The NHL’s view on things is that the teams are both there, the teams are both ready to play so they should play the game. Again, we understand that perspective on things and we know that the NHL schedule is so packed and demanding that figuring out another day for the Devils and Maple Leafs to make up the game would be very difficult. But it’s not an impossible thing to do and for the sake of the fans and the host team, common sense should’ve suggested postponing the game.

Saving everyone a world of trouble is worth it over putting the fans in danger and ruffling the feathers of the home team. The NHL should’ve taken a page out of the NFL’s playbook of operations and told the Devils (and the Islanders) to take the night off and figure out how to reschedule the games. While that would make for a temporary inconvenience, it sure looks a lot better than looking like you’re not taking the safety of the fans into consideration.

NHL refused Islanders request to postpone tonight’s game because of blizzard

Anaheim Ducks v New York Islanders

With the northeast part of the country being hammered by a winter storm and blizzard-like conditions a couple of tonight’s games were put directly in danger because of the weather. Games in New Jersey and Long Island are being affected by the weather and the Islanders sought to get their game against the Montreal Canadiens postponed for the sake of fan safety.

With both teams already in Long Island and ready to play, the NHL thought differently on things and rejected the team’s request. Katie Strang of New York Newsday has the details.

Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker told Newsday that he discussed the situation with NHL executive Colin Campbell and advised the league disciplinarian to postpone the game.

“The most important thing for us is to ensure that roads are passable for public safety. We asked Nassau County residents to stay home unless it was an emergency. To have people out of their homes at 7 p.m. didn’t feel prudent at this time,” Walker said. “[Campbell] said he understood the issues and would have to discuss the situation with [NHL commissioner Gary Bettman].”

Traditionally the league decides to postpone a game based on the recommendation of the home team, but decided otherwise Sunday.

Although they declined to comment for this story, it is believed the league made it’s ruling because both teams arrived safely and were available to play and because no State of Emergency was declared for Nassau County.

It’s not particularly surprising that the league denied the Islanders’ request, but it certainly doesn’t reflect well on the league to put fans in potential danger having them travel to the game. The NFL postponed tonight’s game in Philadelphia between the Eagles and Vikings because of the snowstorm, but rescheduling an NFL game for two days later is easier than picking out an open date later on for two NHL teams. It makes sense that the NHL made the call they did, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right one.

Fortunately, most fans are staying away from the game to be safe anyhow and the Isles are at least making good on their tickets for fans that missed out. The Islanders are giving fans that had tickets to tonight’s game the opportunity to exchange their tickets from tonight to use in other games this year, including games against the Rangers and Penguins. Apparently attendance is much more of an issue than they let on in New York.

The New Jersey Devils were in the same boat tonight as well but apparently didn’t seek to get the game postponed nor has there been any announcement about reimbursing fans who were snowed out of going to Newark for the game.

Update: Tonight’s attendance on Long Island: 3,136. Safe to say that perhaps postponing tonight’s game might’ve been a good idea as this attendance is even poor by Islanders standards.