WASHINGTON — So, this is what the Winter Classic rink at Nationals Park looked like on Wednesday:
(Images courtesy Jason “Ansel Adams” Brough)
Plenty of sunshine, which is fitting — Nationals Park is, after all, home to what the MLB club refers to as the “Sun Monster.” While sun and blue skies do make for great ambiance, they’ll almost certainly be an issue for tomorrow’s scheduled 1 p.m. ET puck drop.
Today, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league’s goal is still to start on time, but there’s growing sentiment the 2015 Winter Classic will drop puck later than scheduled — not unlike the ’12 Winter Classic in Philly, which was delayed for two hours due to sun.
Here’s what the NHL issued in terms of a forecast comparison between today and tomorrow:
And more on the conditions, from the Associated Press:
The temperature should be seasonably cool — highs in low 40s — but the direct sunlight would also deteriorate the ice. Capitals players, meanwhile, spoke of trying to find the right type of eye black to wear, a seemingly appropriate issue for an event taking place on a baseball field.
This week, the shadows from the baseball stands have covered most of the rink by about 2:30 p.m., so that could be an alternative start time.
Now don’t get me wrong — the conditions are pretty nice for watching a hockey game. There was a boatload of people around the rink today during Caps practice; I, like an idiot, didn’t bring my jacket yet managed not to freeze (this is me doing first-person meteorology, so enjoy it.)
The glare issues, though, were, uh, glaring. At ice level you could really see how difficult sight lines became, something players echoed after their skate.
“Obviously with the sun, the glare — it was a little bit tough to see the pucks moving fast,” Washington forward Jay Beagle said. “It’d be a little bit tough to play if we played at one o’clock, with just the way the glare was.”
Caps defenseman Karl Alzer even wore sunglasses during practice:
— John Carlson (@JohnCarlson74) December 31, 2014
Which led to this:
Brock Myles, the Caps equipment manager, said Alzner’s sunglasses are fine for players to wear during the game if they want.
— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) December 31, 2014
By around 2 p.m., two-thirds of the ice surface had been covered by shadow, hence why many are suggesting 2:30-3 p.m. for a new projected puck drop. The league, though, doesn’t want to go there… yet.
“A delay, and hopefully there won’t be one, would be a minimal delay,” Daly said. “Nobody wants to delay the game.
“If there’s any way we can avoid delaying the game, we’re going to avoid delaying the game.”