Winter Classic: Weather forces NHL to put on night moves
Swayed by weather reports calling for rain all afternoon, the NHL has moved the start time of today's Winter Classic to 8 p.m.
The outdoor game at Heinz Field between the Penguins and Washington Capitals originally was set for 1 p.m., but the league made the change late Friday afternoon. Rain, especially heavy rain, would make the ice surface unplayable.
"There seems to be no uncertainty of the weather professionals that we're going to get this rain," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daily said. "It's going to happen."
Under the revised schedule, Heinz Field parking lots will open at 2:30 p.m., the spectator plaza outside of the North Shore stadium will open at 3 and the pregame entertainment will start at 7:30.
The Penguins and Capitals will revert to a regular game-day schedule, with morning skates at Consol Energy Center.
NBC still plans live coverage of the game. It will fill the earlier time slots with Winter Classic features from 1-4 p.m. and the ADT Skills Challenge golf from 4-6.
The NHL made the decision to delay the start of the game based on weather reports and after consulting with both teams, broadcasters, the Steelers, the NHL Players Association and local officials.
Although rain is expected to slow or stop by evening and temperatures to drop, there could still be weather delays or a postponement. The NHL spelled out these contingencies:
• Period and game formats could be reconfigured if there are temporary stoppages.
• The teams will switch ends at the 10:00 mark, or halfway through, each period, and, if necessary, halfway through, or at the 2:30 mark, of overtime.
• In the event of a shootout, each team chooses which end it wants to defend, and both teams can choose the same end.
• Once at least two periods have been completed, the outcome will be considered official if play can't resume, with the team that is leading declared the winner and awarded two points in the NHL standings.
• If the game is tied after at least two periods have been completed and it is deemed that regulation won't be completed, each team receives one point and the game goes directly to a shootout. If conditions don't allow for a shootout at Heinz Field, it will be held Feb. 4 at Verizon Center in Washington before the teams' regularly-scheduled game.
• If the game is called before at least two periods have been played, it will be postponed and, if possible, will be played in its entirety Sunday at Heinz Field beginning at noon. Ticketholders will need their tickets to enter Heinz Field that day.
• If the game is moved to Sunday but still can't be played, it will be rescheduled for Consol Energy Center at a date to be determined. Fans can then get a refund for the face value of their ticket, excluding service and delivery fees. Refund information can be found on the back of the tickets.