ST. LOUIS – The New Year’s Day weather in St. Louis was perfect for an outdoor game: a little sun here or there but mostly cloudy and chilly. The ice, Blackhawks players said following their practice on it, was in very good shape.
As for Monday’s weather, well, that may not be nearly as perfect. With rain still prevalent in the forecast, there could be a delay. So if you’re a hockey player waiting during that time, what do you do?
“I don’t know. Batting cages, maybe?” Corey Crawford said to laughs.
OK, as fun as that may be, finding a way to stay loose is something the Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues will have to consider if the Winter Classic gets delayed. The league announced on Sunday night that the start time for the Winter Classic will be announced at 7 a.m. on Monday.
The current forecast for Monday, according to Weather.com, is 50 degrees with 80 percent chance of rain. The temperature isn’t a problem. The rain could be. In 2011 the Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins Winter Classic was delayed until 8 p.m. ET due to heavy rain in the afternoon, when the game was originally scheduled. Players are hopeful they’ll know one way or another by Sunday night (the Pittsburgh game time was changed the previous day). Regardless, they’ll adjust.
“You do whatever it takes not to be sitting around all day. Obviously if it gets pushed back, whether, it’s last minute or they give us a head’s up, you gotta adjust,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said. “I’m sure everyone will be prepared; nobody will be shocked by anything. That’s the good thing: everyone already has it in their head that there’s a possibility [of a delay]. They’ll probably have their routines all planned out for any situation.”
Duncan Keith doesn’t mind the curveballs the outdoor games can throw you. He also said it’s not just about being physically ready.
“As long as you do some preparation, get your body ready and loosened up to play, then the rest of it is mental,” he said. “Certainly there are things that come into play but a lot of it is just being mentally tough, strong and understanding that nothing’s going to be perfect. Every time you suit up and put on the gear, there are going to be situations you have to find a way to play in and be your best.”
[SHOP: Gear up Blackhawks fans!]
The Blackhawks have seen every type of weather in their outdoor-game history: frigid temperatures at Wrigley Field, a snow globe-like setting Soldier Field, glaring sun at Nationals Park and near-perfect conditions at TFC Bank Stadium. Heavy rain, however, can wreak havoc with the ice. The Blackhawks could be waiting to play this outdoor game. If there are changes, they’ll roll with them.
“Especially hockey, you don’t find delays too much. But we have our system and every player has his things he does to prepare,” Ryan Hartman said. “If it gets prolonged you deal with it. It’s something you just gotta do.”