Craig was not at Verizon Center on Saturday but said the building’s readings showed the temperature at 62 degrees and the humidity at 37 percent - close to the league’s ideal setting of 60 degrees and 40 percent. Players and on-ice officials fill out postgame surveys as part of the league’s way to track and rank its ice surfaces. Those surveys aren’t public, but Saturday’s ice certainly got mixed reviews.
Leonsis did not speak with reporters about the ice conditions, but he did post an entry on his blog, Ted’s Take, on Sunday voicing his concern.
“We are truly working these matters. We are very detailed about what we need to do as to temperature, timing, humidity and the like,” he wrote. “We are on it as a building. We are looking at issues such as the building scheduling basketball games on our afternoons. … And while the building tries to schedule their games before Wizards games, coordinating NHL, NBA and NCAA is an art, not a science.”
Fedorov said he didn’t notice anything unusual against the Panthers, adding that he and other players adjust when conditions aren’t favorable.
“I don’t wanna be the bad guy. I don’t wanna say too much because I don’t know where we stand on that… especially at Verizon,” Fedorov said. “It’s been fair conditions, but I don’t know what else to say because I don’t wanna sound off on that.”
Matt Williams, the executive vice president for Washington Sports and Entertainment, which manages Verizon Center, said the building has been within the NHL’s guidelines most of the season. Given the crowds and unseasonable warmth - the temperature reached a high of 58 degrees - he called it the “perfect storm” for poor conditions.
“Really, the only times we’re going to struggle to have good ice is these tough turnarounds,” Williams said. “If you can avoid having a basketball-to-hockey switch, then you try to do that. That really almost kinda shakes out as the luck of the draw.”
But Saturday night wasn’t the first time the subject has been broached. A few weeks ago, Clark echoed his sentiment that Verizon Center’s ice the worst in the NHL. There were discussions about the ice surface last year and earlier this season as the team’s injury woes intensified.
“It could possibly [lead to injuries]. But I, personally, haven’t had an injury from just skating or the ice surface,” said Green, who said playing conditions are a regular topic of conversation in the dressing room. “It can cause you to get frustrated or whatnot and maybe get you off your game. “
Williams said the Caps inform Verizon Center officials when they are not satisfied with the ice conditions. Every building (and every game situation) provides a different set of circumstances, but Craig pointed to a basic idea for how to solve ice problems.
“In Refrigeration 101, it’s very simple: You remove heat,” he said. “That is a very big challenge in any multiuse facility.”
Williams said the number of events held at Verizon Center makes it impossible to always have perfect ice, adding “it’s the nature of the beast.”
Said Green: “It’s not gonna be good every night; we can’t expect it to be. There’s two teams. Both teams are playing on the same ice surface.”
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