IceCaps give new meaning to working out:­ team no longer practicing at Mile One

Robin
Robin Short
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— Telegram file photo

The St. John’s IceCaps did not practice at Mile One Centre last week, and as the team prepares to close out its home portion of the 2012-13 American Hockey League season with four games this week, the IceCaps have no intentions of booking any practice time at their downtown home.

So what gives, Keith McCambridge?

“If you’re asking me where they’re being staged,” the IceCaps’ coach said of the team’s workouts which, by the way, are at Twin Rinks and Torbay’s Jack Byrne Arena, “there’s nothing to comment on.”

Okay.

So why is your team not working out at Mile One?

“I like the pace, I like the execution, I like the speed that we practice with on the road, and I feel we have that at Twin Rinks and Jack Byrne Arena.”

Either McCambridge is the only coach in the history of hockey who prefers to practice away from his home rink, or the IceCaps’ mentor isn’t spilling the beans with what’s going on at Mile One.

Take this one to the bank: it’s the latter.

Ice conditions at Mile One have been a concern with the IceCaps and, by extension, the Winnipeg Jets dating back to last season, and those concerns came to a head last week when McCambridge ordered all workouts to be moved elsewhere, in this case Twin Rinks and Jack Byrne.

Not that anybody is saying anything for the record, but the problem has nothing to do with available ice time. Rather, it’s the quality of the ice for the morning skates.

It is, in a word, awful.

“You can’t pass the puck with a shovel,” one IceCap complained of the slushy surface.

Last year, the Jets brought in Dan Craig, the NHL’s ice guru, for a weekend to check out the Mile One surface and work with the arena’s ice crew.

A good sheet of ice, Craig said at the time, is hard and fast, but not to the point where it’s brittle.

And hard and fast for morning practice it’s not, whisper some players.

Some Mile One insiders go so far as to suggest the ice temperature is bumped up five or six degrees to accommodate seniors skating in the afternoon, though that would seem to be a ridiculous scenario, bordering on the bizarre given the impact its having on its primary tenant and essential revenue source.

If temperatures are indeed balmy for general skating, they’re positively frigid on game nights. Saturday night, in the upper reaches of Mile One, it was so cold one could hang meat. An Ottawa Senators scout, for example, watched the IceCaps and Toronto Marlies decked out in coat and gloves.

So maybe now we know why Mile One and City Hall is dinging everyone and anyone working the AHL games — including IceCaps staff, off-ice officials and game operations crew — with a parking fee: they need the dough to pay the heat bill that keeps skaters happy.

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email at rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: IceCaps, American Hockey League, Winnipeg Jets NHL Ottawa Senators

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Recent comments

  • brian collins
    April 13, 2013 - 14:52

    A friend of mine emailed this article to me 'cause it is so incredulous. The standards of sports journalism are pretty low, but this is pitifully even lower. I don't believe for one minute that there is slush on the ice in the morning at 'mile one'. And the note about people having to wear coats and gloves while watching a hockey game there - well they must be real wimps. p.s. Would the players complain about the ice if there were playing for a southern U.S. team? I doubt it. They'd be happy soaking up the sun. This is much ado about nothing.

  • The Beagle
    April 11, 2013 - 13:58

    Nobody wants to practice on slop. Seen better ice on burton's pond playing hit the post with Puppy Lambert. C'mon Danny, you have no trouble being in the spotlight when things are going good. Where are you now? You told us it was your team. Make a statement as to why "your team" is practicing in slush puppy conditions.

  • tom
    April 09, 2013 - 16:52

    I am not going to bash the city - but anyone with a brain knows the sellout streak is crap. You can go down any night and see single empty seats... they were available in the afternoon - so people bought one seat and none of them showed up? Really? I imagine Danny or the Caps must be buying up what is left just before game time...

  • real westcoaster
    April 09, 2013 - 16:34

    Hey Bob, 8:37 am , all of us adults are at work ... you know what time toopy comes on don't you? I bet you're watching it right now.

  • real westcoaster
    April 09, 2013 - 07:02

    Okay cindy, lets call a truce! you seem like a nice old lady. Have to respect my elders ... just kidding! P.S. I know you're waiting for this post.

  • Clueless
    April 08, 2013 - 20:45

    Most pro hockey teams practice away from their facility. It's called a practice facility. The jets, the leafs, all use a different facility for practice.

  • real westcoaster
    April 08, 2013 - 17:12

    Hey Bob, you're not only listening to my B.S., but responding to it. Are you trying to be one of those loser friends Bob?

    • Bob
      April 09, 2013 - 07:07

      Go to bed little boy, it's past your bed time. Toopie and Binno comes early in the morning!

  • wannabetownie
    April 08, 2013 - 17:04

    The Ice at Mileone is a joke...Winnipeg paid for a professional ice-maker(the best in the business) to come down and show the crew at the stadium how to do the ice and they totally went on the own ways doing it the way they always done it..THE WRONG WAY.. Maybe the city and mileone are trying to force the icecaps to leave and who would blame them if they did..Mileone is so money hungry they are now even charging volunteers and icecaps staff in the parking garage.. I think mileone forgets that if not for hockey the stadium would pretty much be closed up... GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER MILEONE...

  • Whaddaya At
    April 08, 2013 - 16:57

    I'm amazed that the IceCaps put up with the ice condition at Mile One from day one. One IceCaps' player reportedly said that the ice is so bad you need a shovel to handle the puck. I complained about the ice two years ago when I first went there for general skating because after 10 or 15 minutes, the ice was soft and difficult to skate on .I was told that was to be expected when you've got a couple of dozen people skating around in circles !!!. I haven't been back skating at Mile One since. It's embarrassing that a pro hockey team has to move to other local arenas for practice sessions because Mile One apparently doesn't have the required ice making expertise.

  • Cindy
    April 08, 2013 - 16:26

    @realwestcoaster. FYI... I have traveled the world, including every continent, and there is no place like NL! However there are very similar to Ireland and the UK which I guess you have never seen or you would know. And yes I've been to the west coast as well and I agree it's beautiful there as well but no more so than NL! I feel very lucky that I was fortunate enough to find work in this province in my profession and didn't have to move out west. And yes I probably make just as much as you right here at home. It was my choice to stay and I feel it's a privilege! You people who move away and think you are better than those of us who don't and bash NL are to be pitied more than anything for your ignorance!

  • Bob
    April 08, 2013 - 15:06

    Real Westcoaster, you speak like a former Newfoundlander who moved because he was loser and had no friends. Now your up in a big city where the loser population is much larger and you all act cool and think your better than everybody because you finally have a few friends who will listen to your BS.

    • Danny
      April 08, 2013 - 15:29

      Randy Simms ..tsk tsk can only resort to name calling "loser" ..yawn ')

  • Graham
    April 08, 2013 - 14:16

    Cindy...Dannyville when its built will be part of St Johns. Great location for Danny and his arrogance his own Kingdom of Dannyville.

  • real westcoaster
    April 08, 2013 - 14:06

    Hey Cindy, born and bred, but lived away for twenty five years.If you think St.john's is a first class city, maybe you should get out once and awhile. Comparing your city to any European city, please! ... well, maybe Poland or even the German east block.

  • Cindy
    April 08, 2013 - 12:45

    Hey Real Westcoaster, have you ever visited our great city and province? I'm guessing no. Maybe if you did, you'd see it's a beautiful spot and not a "hole" as you've chosen to call it. Tell us where you're from and why it's so great. In the meantime, check out this site to see how beautiful our province really is: http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com. Just because we don't have the big concrete buildings like Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver, doesn't mean we're inferior to you guys! I actually think our uniqueness from the rest of Canada and similarities to Europe make us more beautiful!

  • real westcoaster
    April 08, 2013 - 12:09

    I knew it wouldn't take long before they realized the hole st.john's really is. They should be proud... I thought they would've pulled out after one year. Boy, was I wrong.

  • Steve
    April 08, 2013 - 11:48

    LOL...Quebec City would love an AHL team. They are in the business of trying to get back into NHL. They had the A and never worked.

  • Brutal
    April 08, 2013 - 11:03

    I agree worst sports reporter maybe even reporter in the province. Last weeks pre mature reporting on Ryan clowe was an embarrassment, I mean honestly did he actually think he really had an inside track I we every analyst in the buisness just cause he is a reporter where the player was born? it was Busch league. It really is time that the media outlets in this province move these old guys out and infuse some young, smart, and motivated reporters into the sports scene here these guys right now I'm this day and age are way to bland.

  • Danny
    April 08, 2013 - 11:00

    Quebec City would love a AHL team.Mile One better get things worked out asap or goodbye pro hockey.The ice is a major concern.Many on the team are ticked off.

  • Bob
    April 08, 2013 - 10:05

    Also, I hear there has been some bashing of our city by a player's wife and on social media sites How unprofessional and inconsiderate of her husband! She should be happy that her husband is getting a chance to play professional hockey and keep her comments about St. John's too herself! Luckily, though, this is not typical. I've meet a lot of the players and their wives/girlfriends from the IceCaps and the Leafs throughout the years, and most of them actually do like it here. Too bad one bad apple in the bunch makes it look bad for everybody! Suck it up and enjoy what this city and province have to offer... because if you'd take the time to notice... it's a lot!!

  • Bob
    April 08, 2013 - 10:03

    Also, I hear there has been some bashing of our city by a player's wife and on social media sites How unprofessional and inconsiderate of her husband! She should be happy that her husband is getting a chance to play professional hockey and keep her comments about St. John's too herself! Luckily, though, this is not typical. I've meet a lot of the players and their wives/girlfriends from the IceCaps and the Leafs throughout the years, and most of them actually do like it here. Too bad one bad apple in the bunch makes it look bad for everybody! Suck it up and enjoy what this city and province have to offer... because if you'd take the time to notice... it's a lot!!

  • Bob
    April 08, 2013 - 09:54

    Nobody in their right mind listens to Robin Short! He still thinks Clowe is in Philly! Worst sports writer in the province.

  • Cindy
    April 08, 2013 - 09:32

    Wow! The City had better smarten up or it's going to lose one of the best things that has ever happened to downtown St. John's! I agree that the ice is crap... the curling rocks wouldn't even budge Friday night during the intermission contest!! So that'll tell you right there how slushy it is. And would the parking fees for the off-ice officials explain why there was no penalty box attendant in the IceCaps penalty box Friday night and a strange face in the visitor's box (probably flown in from TO)? Come on St. John's, this is professional hockey! We look like the laughing stock of the AHL! After the Leafs left and before the IceCaps came, downtown St. John's was dead again. City council... don't forget how much revenue this team brings the city from restaurants, hotels and yes even George Street! If you go ticking off Danny, the AHL officials and the players, we're soon going to be without a professional hockey team again!! Mile One will be like a ghost town, and Danny will build his own arena for the team out in Dannyville! It's up to you City of St. John's to decide!

  • seasonticket
    April 08, 2013 - 09:31

    Wow< this team and situation has definitly taken a big nosedive this season no matter what is being said publicly. On top of the downright disgusting efforts on the ice this season there has been problems in the dressing room which we are bound to hear more about at the end of the season, ice conditions so bad that the team would rather leave the comforts of a home dressing room behind and train elsewhere all hapening under the shadow of a short term lease. I also feel that there has been some stickhandling in the head office in regards to this sell out streak as well. I really do hope that much was learned in all aspects of our team this season both on and off the ice and that the summer months will be used to correct all the issues and solidify our city and our team as a prime pro hockey destination and the Winnipeg Jets organization as a hard working well established hockey operation.