Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It's a Living: NHL Facilities Operation Manager

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It's a Living: NHL Facilities Operation Manager

Article excerpt

Dan Craig enjoys a chilly reception whenever he visits any of the 30 arenas under his care nationwide. The colder, the better.

"They started cooling the building down at noon, and from 72 degrees we want to get down around 55 degrees," he said recently as the floor at the Cox Convention Center was being prepared for its many layers of ice. "And to make sure we don't put such a heavy load on the compressors, we need to bring the temperature of the building down a little bit, too.

"It's all about balance, and everything has to help," he said. "If you're buying tickets through the season, we have to make sure that you're warm and comfortable enough to enjoy the game, while it's cold enough to freeze the ice and the players are cool without becoming dehydrated."

Craig is facilities operation manager for the National Hockey League. He was in town this month to oversee the inaugural use of new icing equipment at the arena for the inaugural season of the newly placed Barons team. The Barons play in the American Hockey League as one of the NHL's support teams.

Craig has been with the NHL for about 12 years. Before that he was responsible for the playing surface for the Oilers at the Coliseum in Edmonton for a decade. And as a young man, he played hockey out of high school and into college. He has ice in his blood.

Craig remembers himself as a fair right-winger in the corner, not brilliant enough to make a career out of it. He stopped playing at 27, but he couldn't leave the sport behind and his experience on the ice rink gave him an excellent perspective of what other players needed to perform at their best.

"You never lose that feeling. It's always with you," he said. "Back then the guys and I were always talking about the conditions, so this is what I can give back to my fellow hockey players. I would be out there until 2 or 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning preparing a sheet of ice for a major game the next day. …

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