Photo: The Pink Puck
While the Alumni Game Saturday was perfect and Sunday practices feature ideal conditions in the upper-30s/lower-40s and overcast, Monday’s forecast shows a high around 50 with fog and increasing likelihood for rain.
Following a seemingly successful practice, the Blackhawks addressed the potential for delays–a concept not too rare for them as they approach their fifth outdoor game. In 2015, the sun’s glare on the ice at the Nationals Field against the Capitals threatened setbacks. In their Soldier Field Stadium Series, snow coated the players and the ice. And, in 2009, Wrigley Field was bitterly cold.
Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock said the Blackhawks could have the advantage when it comes to idle time thanks to previous outdoor experience, while Hawks coach Joel Quenneville noted that the Hawks have played games starting at 11:30 a.m. CT, in the middle of the afternoon, and anywhere from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the postseason.
Ultimately, both teams are hoping to avoid what the Penguins and Capitals faced in 2011, with the day start pushed back to 8 p.m. ET for rain. But, at least they found out the night before.
“Obviously weather you can’t control,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said. “Hopefully we have enough head’s up where it’s not hour-to-hour.”
So far, teams are expecting final word in the morning. Most would like to push through as planned but will be prepared for flexibility.
“I think the NHL will want to get this on as soon as possible,” Kevin Shattenkirk said. “If we have to play through a little rain, we’ll do it.”
Similarly, Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews said the conditions aren’t terribly worrisome since they’ll be the same for both teams.
“There’s always ways around it,” he said. “Take it into consideration and be ready for it. Be ready whenever.”
Duncan Keith said players have ways to stay physically loose, but downtime could be a threat to mental preparation.
“A lot of it is being mentally tough,” he said. “We have to understand that not everything is going to be perfect.”
Their routines usually involve little workouts like hallway soccer, but the players will have to find ways to stay occupied if forced to wait it out at Busch.
“I don’t know,” Blackhawks Goalie Corey Crawford said. “Batting cages, maybe?”
As of 5:00 p.m. Sunday, the Winter Classic is still set to begin at 12:00 p.m. (noon) CT.