They go together, ice and snow, and in hockey country you get plenty of both. It’s a bit strange, then, to think that yesterday was the first NHL game ever played in the snow. That’s because it was the second NHL game ever played outdoors.
Even on television, the outdoor game amid the swirling flakes was fun to watch. The players, apparently, enjoyed it as well, as it took them back to childhood games at the local outdoor rink or on a frozen lake. It was also the highest attendance ever for an NHL match; the football stadium they played in was packed with more then 71,000 enthusiastic fans, few of whom could see the action very well.
The ice itself was a problem, though. The rink was constructed over plywood laid out over the grass of the stadium field, and there were bad areas that required repeated attention. In general the ice was soft and the pace of the game relatively slow (for hockey). Note to the NHL: Take a cue from the Czechs. Ice babes. Several Czech teams have attractive women whose job it is to rush out onto the ice to repair problem spots. All we got in this game was a batch of guys in parkas. Judging by the results, the ice babes may be more skilled as well. Perhaps an enterprising individual can start an ice babe agency over here, and bring some of the czechs over here as instructors. It’s a win-win!
Still, it was fun to watch the game being set free from the confines of buildings constructed to hold at bay the very elements that created hockey in the first place. The game ended in a shootout, which I dislike in principle but grudgingly admit is pretty exciting. The Penguins won, and I imagined that somewhere Rose was smiling.