Players said during the NHL lockout that safety and working conditions shouldn’t be overlooked in the new collective bargaining agreement. Ice conditions were something spelled out.
“There’s lots of new rules on what we have to do with ice quality,” Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. “We’re totally committed to having the best ice that we can possibly have.”
Verizon Center’s ice has been a subject of ridicule, and arena staff has gone to lengths to maintain some measure of quality, especially when the temperature in the District gets above 90 degrees. The Gallery Place Metro stop adds another variable.
But Leonsis is right, there are new rules in place. Let’s take a look at what they are:
- Intermission has been increased from 17 to 18 minutes and on-ice activities during it have been reduced from five minutes to four. This allows 14 minutes for ice resurfacing.
- No on-ice activities for two hours before pregame warm-ups.
- Requirement for each team to supply at least eight ice shovelers for ice maintenance during periods. From the summary of terms, “Clubs will utilize best efforts to utilize ice shovelers on skates. League will issue updated standards for end zone ice shoveling procedure.”
- Players will get to file reports on ice conditions: “Development and introduction of a smart phone app to facilitate completion and submission of Player reports on ice conditions and team compliance with Visiting Team Facility Standards.”
- And, finally: “Develop “best practices” guidance and video for Players on maintaining good ice conditions.”
Will these steps improve ice conditions around the league? That remains to be seen. Some arenas, like Rexall Place in Edmonton, will most likely continue to produce some of the best ice in the league, and places like Madison Square Garden in New York will likely struggle.
But the idea is to raise the standard around the NHL, something that could be crucial in a 48-game season with a compressed schedule. The Caps play four afternoon home games with a basketball game the previous night.