The delay of Monday’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Detroit Red Wings started because of damage to the ice cooling system at PNC Arena, and the postponement was the result of both bad ice conditions and the limited time between games for the Red Wings.
In one of the more bizarre scenes of the season, the start of the Hurricanes and Red Wings game was delayed because of poor ice conditions related to a blown hose that helped keep the playing surface at the proper temperature.
The ice needed to be roughly 21 degrees fahrenheit for the game to be played, but at the time the broken seal was discovered — around 6 p.m., one hour before the scheduled start time — the ice was nearly 30 degrees, according to Hurricanes president Don Waddell. He said the situation was one he hadn’t seen during his almost two-decade tenure in the NHL.
"It's a big hose that blew,” Waddell said, according to MLive.com’s Brendan Savage. “It's the first time in 18 years, first time it's ever happened.”
The blown hose was discovered thanks to an alarm that had gone off in the arena’s control room, Savage reported, and though the problem was fixed almost immediately, the process of cooling the ice takes much longer than one might expect. According to Savage, Waddell said the ice cools at a rate of roughly one degree every 10 minutes, and despite a delay that lasted nearly two hours, the ice never dipped below 27 degrees, rendering the ice surface unplayable and, realistically, unsafe for the players to take the ice.
Worth noting, though, is that Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said the team experienced bad ice even during the morning skate, a sign that the issues with the ice may have started well before the issue was discovered.
"It was bad this morning but sometimes we step on a little bit too early and don't let it freeze and we thought that was the issue," Zetterberg said, according to Savage. "But now, it was probably bad already this morning.
However, it wasn’t just the ice temperature that was at play. Because the Red Wings were suiting up again on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, they were in a situation where any lengthy delay could have resulted in a somewhat “automatic” postponement of the game.
The NHL has instituted a rule that allows teams to have 22 hours between games, which means the latest start for the Hurricanes-Red Wings tilt would have been 9:30 p.m. with their Tuesday game set for 7:30 p.m. in Tampa Bay. While not a “hard and fast rule,” according to George Malik via Fox Sports Detroit, it’s a guideline the league has followed, and one that played into the delay.
“I think it was determined we couldn't get the ice conditions to a point where we could have that safety in the amount of time needed because of the fact that we're playing tomorrow as well…I thought it would put us in a real tough spot (with a game in Tampa),” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said of the delay. “But it was going to last as long as it was going to last, and with unsureness of our players at that point, I think it was the right decision by everybody.”
At this point, no makeup game has been announced, but the belief is a date for replaying the game could be announced by mid-week. Finding time to play the game could be difficult, though, according to Hurricanes GM Ron Francis.
“(It’s going to be) extremely tough,” Francis said, via the News and Observer. “This season is already pretty condensed and it’s not going to be easy. Probably not a problem Steve Hatze Petros (the NHL’s senior vice president for scheduling) was hoping to have to deal with.”
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