Proud American Hockey League Affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks

Our Town Or Team
Buy Tickets

IceHogs News

NHL Ice Crew Beats Outdoor Elements

From (link)

CHICAGO -- With a smile on his face and a souvenir in his hand, NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig spoke like the happiest guy in Chicago roughly an hour after the game.

He was definitely the most relieved employee of the National Hockey League.
Craig and his crew pulled it off Thursday, and nothing was more satisfying for him than to hear that the million-dollar athletes that played in Thursday's Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009 felt the ice he made at Wrigley Field played just like a normal game.

"That is my job. That is the bottom line and you can't ask for anything more than that," Craig told "When we set out to do a project like this the last thing you want the guys thinking about is an ice surface or the elements.

"My hat is off to the crew that we put together here from productions, the refrigeration side and the operations side. They pulled it together and let the guys feel at home and play the game the way it is supposed to be played."

Craig, normally never one to reflect on a job immediately after he finishes it, was planning a special dinner Thursday night with the people closest to him to do exactly that.

He won't be leaving Chicago until Jan. 7 because there are still some corporate events on the ice during the next two days and then his crew has to pack up all the equipment and turn Wrigley Field into a baseball stadium once again.

But he let his hair down once the final buzzer sounded Thursday.

"My wife is in town and my best friend from high school and his wife came," Craig said. "My son is here. Unfortunately my other son couldn't be here, but we are going to get a lot of guys together and we'll go have a little dinner and we're going to reflect.

"The thing is it doesn't hit you right away what you have accomplished," Craig continued. "I'll wake up (Friday) morning and I'll look at the paper and I think that's when it really will start sinking in. I understand the elements and I understand what we have done as a crew here. When you see this many people enjoying the game, never mind millions of people that enjoy it on network (TV); we did exactly what we needed to be done here."

Craig arrived at Wrigley Field just after 4 a.m. Thursday morning. He said he went up to the level just below the press box and began to walk around. Just as it was game day for the Blackhawks and Red Wings, it was for Craig, too.

"I was walking the building, just getting a feel for everything," Craig said. "You never say it's over until the buzzer."

The weather -- 31.9 degrees Fahrenheit with overcast skies at the start of the game -- was "as ideal as it could get," Craig said. "We only had one compressor running half the time. Mother Nature did what she had to do and we had an awesome, awesome time."

Craig even allowed himself to soak up the atmosphere, which is something he couldn't afford to do in Buffalo last year when he became more known for his numerous appearances on the ice to fix gashes.

"I was able to sit back and kind of take in the elements, the festivities, from the National Anthem to the flyover to the people cheering their teams on," Craig said. "Oh, it was electric. The anthems just sent chills down your spine. Then you take a deep breath and say, 'OK, game on. This is it.' "

Craig never stopped moving throughout the game, but he didn't really care about the plays being made or the goals being scored. He was watching the ice and taking in how the pucks and skates were reacting to it.

"I started at the Zamboni door and then I walked around the rink to the opposite side because we had guys coming off the rink on both ends," he said. "I was in constant communication with guys on both ends of the rink and I was going down and looking at the computer to make sure the temperature was where we needed it to be. I went back to the refrigeration trailer to talk to the mechanic back there. I was constantly in motion."

That's how he and his crew felt for the past two days as Chicago got hit with biting cold weather. The temperatures dropped into single digits overnight, creating some stress fractures in the ice and freezing the hoses the crew needed to use to fix them.

The frigid temperatures all came after snow, then sleet, then rain hit the Chicago area this week, making the crew work overtime to get the job done.

"Mother Nature threw at us all that she was prepared to throw at us and God only gives you what you can endure," Craig said. "I think the last 36 hours was the most that our guys could endure. The weather changed to our favor and the boys pulled it together, pulled it off. The crew did an awesome, awesome job."

Search Archive »

Browse by Month »

January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
December 0200