For the Carolina Hurricanes players, the first inkling there was a problem Monday at PNC Arena came just before the pregame warmup.
“It was less than 15 minutes before warmups when they told us there would be a delay,” Canes center Jay McClement said Wednesday.
How long a delay? No one seemed to know. The players were told there was an issue with the ice-cooling system at PNC Arena and that the game against the Detroit Red Wings would start when the ice temperature was low enough to be suitable for playing.
“You just try to stay loose and warm because we knew when they decided it would be quick,” McClement said.
Never miss a local story.
That’s when the long wait began. The players were told there might be a one-hour delay and the game might start after 8 p.m. Then possibly 9 p.m.
Several Canes players like to kick around a soccer ball outside the locker room before games to stay loose.
“We played a lot of soccer,” center Jordan Staal said, smiling. “I didn’t think I’d ever get sick of the game but this one was long. We wanted to keep moving without overdoing it.”
Canes coach Bill Peters said he watched video of his team’s 2-1 shootout win Saturday over the Buffalo Sabres, then video of the Red Wings, saying he wasn’t getting a lot of information on the situation.
“I didn’t want any information,” he said Wednesday. “I just wanted to know when the game was going to start so the guys would know when to get dressed. I didn’t want constant feedback from five or six different guys. I said once you know, let me know.”
As the two teams waited, PNC Arena and Hurricanes personnel worked to repair a malfunction of the ice-cooling system that caused a freon leak. More R-22 freon was brought in and the repairs made, but cooling down the ice is a slow process.
“The longer we waited the more we guessed it wasn’t going to happen,” Staal said.
At 8:45 p.m., it was announced in the arena the game had been postponed. Hurricanes and Red Wings officials are conferring with the NHL, trying to find a date to reschedule the game.
Peters said the ice was fine at Monday’s 10:30 a.m. morning skate at PNC Arena. The players said the same.
Neither Peters nor the players said they had encountered a similar problem, at any level of hockey.
“It was a tough situation,” Canes forward Jeff Skinner said. “All you can do is take it in stride. You don’t like to see that happen, but as players you just move on.”