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NHL’s Ice Guru Talks Stress Of Building Rink

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NewsChopper 2 flew over Heinz Field as crews started work on the Winter Classic ice rink. (Photo Credit: KDKA)

NewsChopper 2 flew over Heinz Field as crews started work on the Winter Classic ice rink. (Photo Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A major transformation is happening at Heinz Field. The green is disappearing as the NHL rink builders work to set up the ice rink where the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals will play the 2011 Winter Classic.

Ralph Wilson Stadium, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park… now, it’s our turn Pittsburgh. Crews are wasting no time with construction and everything has to be perfect.

“What remains constant is stress because of the high-caliber of players that we have,” said Dan Craig, the NHL facilities operations manager.

Craig is the ice man of the NHL. He has 44 years of experience in ice making. He says it can be stressful getting the rink ready for the big day, but his crews are the best in the business.

“I want to make sure that everybody has the ability to play the game at the highest level,” he said.

Weather is always a factor when building an outdoor rink, but thankfully no major snowfall is predicted for the area. However, it is something the crew is trained to tackle.

“This thing is put together like a jigsaw and if we have to work 20 feet at a time and shovel snow, 20 feet at a time and shovel snow, that’s what we’ll do,” Craig added.

With eight days until the showdown, it’ll take round the clock work to get it done.

“I’m hoping that, all things considered, Mother Nature will be good to us and we will be making ice by nine o’clock on Christmas night,” said Craig.

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