As the Blues and Blackhawks prepare to face off in the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, warm temperatures and rain have forced the NHL to consider the possibility that the ice won’t last three periods.
The forecast calls for temperatures around 50 degrees and a chance of thunderstorms, though rain is less likely later in the afternoon. Puck drop is slated for noon local time.
In the event that weather conditions create an unplayable surface, the league has concocted two contingency plans, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
First of all, the game will only be official if the teams play two full periods. If the ice falters before the end of the second period, the teams will give it another go on Tuesday.
The second idea is a little more outrageous. If the game is tied after two periods but the ice is unsuitable the game will be decided with a shootout in eight weeks, before the Blues-Hawks game in St. Louis on Feb. 26.
NHL ice is fickle. The league’s maximum ice temperature is 24 degrees, though 18 to 20 degrees is more desirable. NHL arenas are also kept at low humidity levels, around 45%, to prevent pools of water from forming on the ice. The humidity in St. Louis two hours before puck drop was 89%.
It’s too bad they can’t wait until Wednesday to play the game. The high temperature that day is only supposed to be 28 degrees.
- Dan Gartland