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Stage the NHL Winter Classic in LA? Why not!

December 29, 2008 |  5:54 pm

Dan Craig, the NHL's ice guru, has been working tirelessly in Chicago for the last two weeks to make sure the playing surface will be NHL-caliber for the third Winter Classic, to be played New Year's Day on a portable rink set up across Wrigley Field's infield. The Chicago Blackhawks will host the Detroit Red Wings.

Edmonton played host to the first outdoor game in November of 2003, and Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium was the site of the second game, last Jan. 1.

Chicago's strange weather has tested Craig and his crew, but everything looks good to go for Thursday, when temperatures are predicted to be in the high 20s.

"I've been here for 12 days and I've had everything: minus five, minus six degrees Fahrenheit, and 58 [Sunday], and the day before was pouring rain. So I felt like I was in a typhoon," Craig told reporters during a conference call Monday.

"We had six inches of snow on the ice about eight days before that. So we've run the gamut on this one. I think Mother Nature has tested us as good as she can test us. The team that we put together is still standing and smiling and ready to go."

If he can make good ice in those kinds of conditions, why not try to do it here?

"Are you trying to challenge me?" he said, laughing.

Sure.

Think of it: a rink set up in Dodger Stadium and a smaller surface in the outfield for kids to play on. Or roller rinks in the outfield, to add to the atmosphere and pay tribute to roller hockey players.

Don't laugh.

It could be done, thanks to current refrigeration technologies and the beauty of temporary rinks (one will be set up inside the L.A. Convention Center to serve as a practice surface during the World Figure Skating Championships, which will be held here in March).

"That's the thing, once we get this equipment up and running and dialed in exactly what we need to do, I can say, yes, we can do it," Craig said.

He said he had seen footage of Seaside Ice in Redondo Beach, which is set up near the ocean, and was interested to see the setup.

"The biggest thing is that we could do it, but we would have to put a canopy over the top of it," he said. "Even on the news clip, you could see there was standing water on the top surface. Even though they call it ice, it definitely would not be to our quality. So we have to get the direct sunlight off of it, which really causes us a problem, especially in the warmer climates."

Okay, then, build a canopy. Let's do it!

-- Helene Elliott

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