The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks likely will have to wait until Tuesday to finally get a spin around the ice at Notre Dame Stadium.
The obvious problem with that, however, is that the Winter Classic itself is Tuesday. Monday’s previously scheduled outdoor practices are being moved indoors due to a forecasted day-long rainstorm in the area.
The two Winter Classic combatants typically get a chance to get on the ice the day before for practice and the traditional family skate. After spending 99.99 percent of their careers playing indoors, those sessions are important to get a feel for the ice and the sightlines and all the things that come with outdoor games.
“Traditionally, most teams get out there, get the feel and then they enjoy it with their families. We’ve always thought that that was a big part of these events,” NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Kris King told reporters Sunday, per NHL.com. “It’s unfortunate if the weather doesn’t allow us to do that, but we’re thinking about the next day, which looks great. The weather looks fabulous.”
And even with that practice session, the Winter Classic typically looks a little sloppier than the NHL product we’re all accustomed to seeing. Not having a chance to investigate the conditions will make life a little more difficult for both teams, but the Bruins have a handful of players left over from the 2010 and 2016 Winter Classic games at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium, respectively.
“I think there’s a few of them in the room who have been through it,” head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters Sunday. “Obviously, (Patrice Bergeron), (David Krejci), we’ve got a couple of different avenues the players can go to, whoever they’re most comfortable with. I’m sure (Zdeno Chara) will go over it with the defensemen. Torey (Krug) has played some outdoor games … so some of the other defensemen might go toward him.”
The good news, however, is the rain is expected to move out of the area by Monday night and give way to cloudy skies on Tuesday. That cloud cover actually is for the best, as too much sun can make for an awful glare.
In addition to dealing with the conditions, players and coaches will also battle nerves as they take part in a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“There are enough guys in the room that I think we’ll get through it,” Cassidy said. ” … At the end of the day, hopefully, the guys are in a good state of mind and not too nervous, enjoy the moment. Should be great memories for them.”
Thumbnail photo via Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports Images