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Wings-Hurricanes called off due to ice issues

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit Red Wings fans look out over the ice following the cancellation of the Red Wings game with the Carolina Hurricanes due to a problem with the ice in the PNC Arena Monday.

Raleigh, N.C. — It wasn’t rain, sleet or snow that canceled the Red Wings’ game in Carolina.

A technical problem with the ice equipment Monday at PNC Arena postponed the game after a delay of nearly two hours.

A faulty compressor was causing problems with temperature on ice level, making it unsafe for players to skate.

“We had a feeling pretty early that it probably wouldn’t be a game,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, who added Red Wings players passed time with different games in the hallways to stay warm. “But we had to wait to be certain, just with the problem with the ice. I don’t think there was going to be enough time to actually fix it.

“The biggest concern was the safety of the players to go out and play and have the ice ready for us.”

Hurricanes president Don Waddell said a release of Freon caused temperatures on ice level to rise to approximately 25 degrees, approximately seven degrees warmer than the ice should be ideally.

Waddell said the problem was eventually fixed, but the temperature hadn’t sufficiently dropped to make the ice playable.

“Once we started chilling it (the ice), it was dropping, but at the rate it was dropping, it would have been about 9:45 (p.m.) that we would have been comfortable with the players going on it,” Waddell said. “The safety of the players is obviously is first and foremost.”

In a news release, Waddell said “a mechanical problem arose early this evening with the cooling system that keeps the ice solidified.”

Waddell and general manager Ken Holland said a make-up date for the game would hopefully be announced in the next few days.

The Red Wings play in Tampa on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., which contributed calling this game a little earlier than maybe it would normally — as a NHL rule states a minimum of 22 hours between games for a team.

“At some point, if the game gets too late and we have to play the next night, I thought it would have put us in a tough spot when it was going to last as long as it was going to last,” coach Jeff Blashill said.

Waddell said the problem with the coolant leak was first identified about 20 minutes before the teams were going to take the ice for warmups.

The Hurricanes immediately contacted Holland regarding the delay.

Players complained about the poor ice conditions Monday after the morning skate but didn’t find the condition totally abnormal.

“It was bad this morning but sometimes we step on it a little too early and don’t let it freeze,” Zetterberg said. “We thought that was the issue.”

Rescheduling could be a difficult proposition given the already tight schedule for teams because of the World Cup of Hockey having taken place in early October and the five-day break all teams get the second half of the season.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see this game rescheduled until the Monday or Tuesday after the regular season is completed.

This was a strange way for the Red Wings to begin a stretch of 10 of their next 11 games on the road.

The Red Wings have actually been a stronger team away from Joe Louis Arena — they’re 7-5-1 on the road, 7-9-3 at home — but nobody appeared to be focusing on the long road ahead.

“I’m not thinking about 10 of 11 (on the road),” Blashill said. “I’m thinking about tonight and the singular focus is to win a hockey game. Kind of like we did the other night against Anaheim (Saturday’s 6-4 victory).

“We just have to go in (in any road game) and make sure our process is great and give ourselves the best chance to win.”