As of late Sunday afternoon, it was still Game On and no delays were expected for the 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park at 2 PM ET on Monday. The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins both practiced on the Fenway Park rink Sunday and had their family skates as well.
“It was awesome!” Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk told Boston Hockey Now of the ice conditions which understandably could have been a lot poorer consider the temps went into the mid-fifties for a fourth straight day in Boston. “Honestly, I could’ve understood if it wasn’t that great with the weather but man I thought it was great.”
The Winter Classic rink crew has been working 24/7 lately to maintain certain ice temperatures and make sure that even with another sunny day in the fifties forecasted the marquee game of the NHL regular season will get underway on time. The sun could still be an issue but the league and the Winter Classic crew are ready.
“Right now our plan is to get through practices here today,” the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations, Derek King, said. “We’ll cover it again tonight, check the weather tomorrow and cover it right up until the very last minute and then we have a plan in place to uncover really close to warmup and then we’ll see what mother nature throws at us tomorrow.”
King was then asked how often they check the ice temperature?
“We’re checking on it all the time and we have some monitors in place to see the ice temperatures once they’re covered,” Chris replied. “We can check it from our phones and I’ve been spending too much time checking that and obviously checking the weather. We’ve got a crew here and when I’m not around, we’ve got guys that are in place to watch that so it’s pretty much around the clock.
We’ve got the equipment in place where we can monitor. We know the temps, we know the weather. So we can plan ahead, we can get that sheet a little bit colder, and we can make adjustments right through the night and up until game time tomorrow.”
The Winter Classic has dealt with rain and warm temperatures before and that has taught King and his Winter Classic crew some very valuable lessons.
“We’ve had games in Dallas, games in Nashville where we had a lot of rain,” King said. “The one game that stands out is Tahoe. We learned a lot from that one. We’re always learning from every game so that we can prepare for the next games.”