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Video- The “Ice Man” Dan Craig Arrives At The Big House

Updated substantially with articles and videos at 6:20 PM: via Mlive,

Update: MLive and Michigan Hockey posted videos of the truck's arrival, and NHL.com posted a video of the truck arriving at Michigan Stadium as well...

Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus spoke with NHL facilities manager Don Renzuli about the truck's arrival and the work being done at the stadium...

Construction began at The Big House on Dec. 2, is scheduled to run until a Christmas break on Dec. 23 and then crews will resume working on the 26th.

“We came in on Dec. 2 and really down to the base for the ice,” Renzulli said. “Underneath the plywood is a number of pieces that make up a deck so we can get level, then the plywood goes on and Dan will take over from there, put his plates down next week, then his boards and glass and he’ll eventually start making ice.

“It’s really a planning process, it’s understanding what’s got to happen and when. We go through an extensive process with all of our vendors to lay out a schedule, but not only do that, we have our architectural firm come in and draw an extensive set of blueprints. We have everything broken down into segments of the stadium, underneath, on the field, things like that, so we know where everything is going.”

Renzulli added that the stadium needs some snow to help cover up parts of the field, but said if there’s too much, it could slightly interfere. However, that’s why he and his crew began working a month in advance.

For fans, there will be seat cushions on every seat in Michigan Stadium for fans attending the game. Additionally, there will be an auxiliary ice surface in one of the endzones for kids to skate on before the game and during intermissions.

The NHL will also create a big tailgating location, dubbed ‘Spectator Plaza’, outside Crisler Center with live music, food and beverages, open from 9 a.m. until puck drop.

“It’s fun,” Renzulli said. “Obviously, we were supposed to be here last year… We’re back, so it’s given us more time to plan. It’s probably a little more stressful this year because we’re doing a number of games, not just one, but I think everybody is up for the challenge.”

And the CTV Windsor spoke with both NHL ice-maker Dan Craig and Renzuli...

Dan craig: "Everybody thinks you can just go out there, put down water, and then we're all good,” says , Dan Craig, NHL Sr. director of facility operations. “If you and I are going for public skating that'd be great, but we have guys making millions of millions of dollars."

Unlike many indoor arenas, it doesn't happen overnight. To make it all possible, a truck arrived in Ann Arbor Friday hauling the world's largest mobile refrigeration unit. The Canadian made and operated ice truck filters 1,400 gal of water onto the eventual playing surface every minute. Operators use state-of-the-art monitoring equipment to make an NHL calibre sheet of ice.

Don Renzulli, Sr. vice president of events for the NHL says it takes about five days to build a good sheet of ice, depending on what Mother Nature throws at you.

"Pittsburgh had rain, and Philly we had nothing but sunshine, so we've kind of gone through all sorts of weather contingencies," says Renzulli.

As well as one Tomas Holmstrom:

Just seeing the outdoor ice-pad at the Big House makes Tomas Holmstrom feel like a kid again. The retired Red Wing is getting ready for the Winter Classic alumni game - where he'll play along such hockey greats as Steve Yzerman, Mats Sundin and Wendel Clark.

“Sundin is probably going to skate around out there,” says Holmstrom. “I'm going to have to stop eating, get back in shape, and work on my game."

Update #2: Kris Draper spoke with the NHL Live today as well:

Update #2: Via RedWingsFeed, the Detroit News's David Guralnick also posted a photo gallery from the event...

WDIV posted a video and a report from Jamie Edmonds...

"We have 250-horse variable speed pumps that we use to push over 1400 gallons of glycol from the top of the floor down the ramp and back," Dan Craig, NHL Senior Director of facilities and operations, said.

Craig is the guy behind the ice surfaces for five Winter Classic games. He said each time they do it, it gets better and better.

"We evolve every single time we do it," Craig said. "Every time we try to bring in new people from around the nation to make it better."

So, fans can expect one of the best Winter Classics to date, a great matchup between two Original Six teams, and a few extras that haven’t been done before.

"The NHL is setting up a tailgating station outside,” said Don Renzulli, NHL Exective VP of events. “We are also going to install 100,000+ seat cushions that represent the game; they’ve never done that at [Michigan Stadium] before. When you see that, it will change the way it looks inside the bowl and create a new experience."

The players are obviously pumped to play. They’ve been talking about it for weeks. Tomas Holmstrom knows the feeling. He played at Wrigley Field with the Red Wings in 2009.

"It was pretty cool to play the game and have the fighters going over Wrigley and put eye black on my face," Holmstrom said. “It was a good two-three days of fun."

And Edmonds spoke with Holmstrom as well:

I ran into Tomas Holmstrom on Thursday at the Big House in Ann Arbor.

He hitched a ride with the NHL's refrigeration truck, which arrived Thursday from Toronto. Homer says he's a little bummed he's not playing in this year's Winter Classic, but he's enjoying retirement.

He says most of his time is spent taking his daughter to her hockey games and she's "better than most of the boys."

As for the alumni game NYE at Comerica Park, he said he hasn't practiced much, but he'll be ready.

"We have to beat those Canadians!"

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.