Winter Classic alumni game time pushed back to 3 p.m.

Saturday's forecast calls for warm weather, which isn't a good thing for the NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game at Citizens Bank Park. So organizers have pushed the starting time back two hours to 3 p.m.

Gates will open at 1 p.m.

"The objective is to make sure players and fans have both what they need - good ice and good entertainment - and we feel 3 o'clock sets up more optimally for game conditions than 1 o'clock based on [Saturday's] forecast," said Jamey Horan, NHL vice president for player development and event communications.

The ice got its first test Friday after a two-hour delay. Members of the media involved in both a skate and then a game didn't get onto the ice until 2 p.m.

It simply was too warm at noon, the scheduled starting time, and the sun was beating down on the ice. Even by 5 p.m. on Friday, it was 51 degrees in Philadelphia.

Horan, however said the NHL was pleased with the condition of the ice, especially since it was the first time it was tested.

The forecast for 1 p.m. on Saturday, according to weather.com, is 52 degrees with a 20 percent chance of precipitation. The 3 p.m. forecast is 53 degrees and a 20 percent chance of precipitation. By 6 p.m., the temperature is expected to drop to 49 degrees with no chance of precipitation.

The NHL announced the time change at about 3:45 p.m. on Friday.

The weather is supposed to be more accommodating for Monday's 1 p.m. Winter Classic between the Flyers and New York Rangers at the ballpark.

Monday's forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a high of 41 degrees. The NHL doesn't expect any weather-related problems.

Return of Lindros. In one of the interesting subplots for the Flyers' alumni, Eric Lindros and Bob Clarke are teammates. The battles between the two were well-documented when Lindros played for the Flyers and Clarke was the general manager.

Lindros chose to take the high road when asked about reuniting with Clarke.

"I came down here to enjoy myself, and you can look back at what happened and have different points of view, but I am moving forward," Lindros said. "There is nothing positive about looking back."

Late addition. Former Flyers defenseman Jimmy Watson was a late addition to the alumni team.

Watson is one of the owners of Ice Works in Aston, Delaware County, which houses four rinks. He was a five-time all-star with the Flyers and, with his brother Joe, was an integral part of the franchise's two Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975.

"When you go through what we did and are fortunate enough to win, the bond that's it, there is nothing greater in this particular sport," Jim Watson said.

McCrimmon tribute. The Flyers alumni team will wear a black patch with the No. 10 in memory of Brad McCrimmon, who died in a Sept. 7 plane crash in Russia.

McCrimmon was the head coach of Russia's Lokomotiv Yaroslavi of the Kontinental Hockey League.

A goalie in demand. John Vanbiesbrouck played nine full seasons as a New York Rangers goalie and two as a Flyer, and both teams wanted him on their side for the alumni game.

It turns out Vanbiesbrouck made a commitment to the Rangers about 48 hours before Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren contacted him. He said Holmgren tried to convince him to play for the Flyers.

It's nice to be wanted.

"These are two special organizations, and I hope I was on their short list and not down the phone-call list too far, but it's an honor," Vanbiesbrouck said. "They are both great organizations, and I had the pleasure and honor of playing for both."

 


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Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com, or @sjnard on Twitter.