As you may have seen on news stations in-between stories about Michael Jackson's doctor, we're having a bit of a snowstorm in Washington, D.C., which could create some headaches for the NHL and its broadcast partner.
The Penguins play the day before at 2 p.m. in Montreal. The current winter storm warning for the D.C. area is in effect through Saturday at 10 p.m. with accumulations of snow between 20 to 30 inches around the area, with the heaviest stuff arriving Saturday morning. That sound you just heard was hundreds of D.C. residents abandoning their cars in the coming Snowpocalypse.
Is there a chance that this marquee, nationally televised game that could mooch off a captive Super Bowl Sunday party audience might be postponed?
"It seems to me a lot of the calls are going to be based on whether the Penguins can get here," said Nate Ewell, director of media relations for the Caps, who said the last snowed out game in D.C. was in 1993. "At that point, it's then a question about whether people can get to the arena from wherever they live."
Who makes that call? Why, Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and Colin Campbell, that's who.
The NHL braintrust works in conjunction with local authorities and the teams themselves to determine if a game can be played. Such was the case when Steven Stamkos(notes) shot the lights out at the Prudential Center; such is the case for Sunday.
"We operate from one premise, which is that we play this game at the bad-weather time of year, with hearty fans and hearty players. Inconvenience is not the standard -- it's safety," said John Dellapina, director of media relations for the NHL.
"If mass transit is running, if the streets are clear, if the Penguins can get in, they're going to play the game. And it's not if the Penguins can get in at 8 p.m. the night before -- it's if the Penguins can get in at a reasonable time to play the game."
What's reasonable? That's a nebulous concept for the NHL on a lot of issues, and this is no different. If they can't get in on Saturday but can get in Sunday morning, it's game-on -- unless the NHL decides to call the game on Saturday night. Bottom line, via Dellapina: "They're not going to let people leave their homes if there's no chance of a game at noon."
Something to keep in mind: The Capitals and Penguins are off until Wednesday, and the Verizon Center has open dates on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
A call to the Penguins wasn't returned, and we're waiting on some comment and context from NBC. If either arrives, we'll update this post. In the meantime: Pray for rain.
UPDATE (8:48 p.m. EST): Via NBC, the network will show "NHL-related" programming if this game is somehow postponed on Sunday, that will potentially include some live elements from broadcast talent.