Hurricanes-Red Wings game postponed due to broken ice cooling system

PNC Arena compressor seal broke at 6 p.m.; game not yet rescheduled

James Guillory—USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings fans wait for the game to start because of a delay to mechanical problems with the ice at PNC Arena.

RALEIGH — The consensus seemed to be that no one had seen a game postponed because an arena’s ice cooling compressor broke, but that’s what happened Monday to the Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings at PNC Arena.At 8:45 p.m. — about two hours after an initial delay was publicly announced and with a 9:30 p.m. start time deadline in place because of Detroit’s game tomorrow in Tampa Bay — the game was postponed and fans emptied PNC Arena having not seen one player, one puck hit the ice.A delay was announced just before 6:45 p.m. on the public address system, about 20 minutes after the Hurricanes and Red Wings were supposed to be on the ice for the pregame warmup.”I’ve seen games canceled — ice storms and weather — this is the first time I remember that we’ve had a game canceled because of a seal in the compressor,” general manager Ron Francis told the press following the announcement. “I don’t remember any issue similar to this. It’s certainly frustrating.”At the end of the day, when the ice isn’t safe for the players to be on there you gotta make the decision what’s best for the players, and that’s the decision we came to at the end.”The team released some ticket and parking exchange details via its Twitter account shortly after 11 p.m. It said season ticket holders’ tickets from Monday’s game would be valid for the to-be-announced rescheduled matchup with the Red Wings, along with a voucher good for another middle- or low-tiered games (silver or bronze). Season ticket holders would also receive discounted concessions for the makeup date against Detroit.Individual ticket buyers, meanwhile,can use the ticket for tonight’s game for the rescheduled game or any silver or bronze game, subject to availability.Parking attendants were handing out vouchers to people in cars leaving the parking lot shortly after the game was called, and the aforementioned page also said a parking receipt or hang tag would be good for parking at any future game this season.Don Waddell — president of Gale Force Holdings, the parent company of the Hurricanes — said the staff was immediately notified of the broken seal by a computer monitoring system at about 6 p.m., but that the temperature of the ice climbed to a level that didn’t allow the fixed compressor to cool temperatures back to a safe level.”The problem is the ice temperature got up to about 30 degrees, so once we start chilling it, it was dropping,” Waddell said. “But at the rate it was dropping it would’ve been not until about 9:45 when we would’ve been comfortable with players playing on it.”Once the seal was fixed, freon had to be pumped back into the compressor to start cooling the ice. Two measurements are used to gauge the temperature of the ice, Waddell said.”Twenty-one [degrees] is the about the minimum you want it,” he said. “There’s two different temperatures you measure: one is the floor temperature and one is the ice temperature above the ice. So the low one has to be at 21 and the high one should be someplace 23, 24 at the worst case. “Normally you start a game off at about 18 and 21, and as people come in the building it naturally rises,” Waddell added. “But to start a game off at any higher than what it was would’ve been dangerous for our players, for both teams.”Waddell said the two temperatures were at about 27 and 24 degrees when the decision was made to postpone. “That’s about the lowest we got it right now,” Waddell said. “The way we were forecasting it, it would’ve been another hour or so.”With the World Cup of Hockey already compressing schedules throughout the NHL, finding a place to squeeze in Monday’s postponed game could be difficult. The Red Wings come back to Raleigh March 28 for their other scheduled visit to Raleigh, but playing the day before or after that game is not possible because it would created three-games-in-three-days scenarios for one or both teams.”We start looking at schedules immediately and seeing when we have an opportunity to slide a home game in and then of course Detroit’s schedule to see where they’re at,” Waddell said. “It’ll happen hopefully in the next 24 to 48 hours. “It’s not the first game that’s ever been cancelled in the NHL, so you always find a way to reschedule it. But it won’t be an ideal schedule I’m sure for either team.”Hurricanes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour said he had never seen a game postponed for such a problem before, though he did say he had one stopped back in his Flyers days because a window at the old Spectrum arena shattered during a winter storm.According to a story on the Los Angeles Times website (, a large window broke near the end of the opening period of that game, raining glass down on fans and leading the fire marshal to deem the building unsafe.The Hurricanes, Red Wings and the NHL will now have to a date that works to play the game.”It’s disappointing for both teams because we’ve got to reschedule it,” Francis said. “It’s certainly really disappointing for our fans, especially the people that were in the building tonight. … If this had happened at the morning skate we would’ve played tonight. If this had happened at 2 o’clock we probably would’ve played tonight. But unfortunately it happened right at 6 o’clock and we weren’t able to recover from it.”