NHL sticking to its guns on 1 o'clock Winter Classic start

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Weather forecasts of rain for Saturday are holding fast, but the NHL is just as adamant that the outdoor Winter Classic will be played that day at Heinz Field.

"We're not expecting to not be able to get the game in on Saturday," league chief operating officer John Collins said Thursday of the premier event between the Penguins and Washington Capitals. "Weather is the biggest factor. Weather can change."

The game is slated for 1 p.m., although with pregame festivities play actually will start at about 1:28 -- if conditions allow.

Mr. Collins said fans should not expect any sort of advance notice about a time change, delay or postponement because those would be spot decisions, but they should arrive or tune in for an on-time start.

"To make a decision more than 24 hours or more than 12 hours [ahead], it doesn't make sense," he said.

Late Thursday, the National Weather Service was calling for a high of 50 degrees with an 80 percent chance of rain during the day Saturday, with rainfall of 0.4 inches. The Weather Channel listed the projected high at 49 degrees, also with an 80 percent chance of rain. AccuWeather forecast a high of 50 degrees with 0.69 inches of rain.

Heavy rain could cause delays because of unsafe conditions for players, something Mr. Collins confirmed, but he noted that there is flexibility with time. It's believed NBC, which is broadcasting the game, has given the OK to hang on until late into the night if needed.

"If for some reason it was completely unplayable, we have other options on Sunday," he said. "But we're going into this with the idea that we're going to play at 1 o'clock.

"The decision is, we're going to go at 1."


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