Ice at Little Caesars Arena getting cold reviews

The ice surface at Joe Louis Arena was widely regarded as among the best in the NHL, from both the Red Wings players who called the venue home to opponents. But since the move to Little Caesars Arena, the term “home ice advantage” hasn’t exactly been applicable, as the players have raised issues with the quality of the playing surface.

This is exactly one of the problems that fans of the Red Wings discussed when they voiced their opposition to sharing a venue with another professional sports franchise.

Forward Gus Nyquist attested to the problems that arise from soft ice and how it affects the play.

“Halfway through the periods, if the puck starts bouncing, you just have to take more care of it,” Nyquist said. “Make sure you are maybe not trying to make that extra play because it might roll on you instead of making a safer play.”

Tomas Tatar also noticed the difference, saying that the ice “is really soft. When you try to make a move there is a lot of snow.”

The constant back and forth between configurations for different sports takes a toll on the ice surface. On nights where a venue hosts NBA basketball, the ice is covered and the court is installed on top of it, and then removed again in time for the next hockey event. With lower quality ice, the puck is more likely to bounce, as well as increased risk for injuries to players due to ruts and more “snow”.

Captain Henrik Zetterberg didn’t mince words when it came to the ice quality.

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He said that the ice at Little Caesars Arena is “what we play on most of the nights in this league. But we should be able to get better ice. It’s not just this building but a lot of buildings, the technology that we have nowadays, we should be able to be better.”

After being used to playing on some of the best ice in hockey for so long, the frustration in the drop in quality is understandable. Of course, to be fair, plenty of NHL teams share their venue with the NBA team in the city, and have the same issue with their ice quality.

When asked if he could think of another joint NHL/NBA venue that had good ice quality, Zetterberg responsed, “Not really. So hopefully we can be the first to have great ice in a multi-sport arena.”

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2 thoughts on “Ice at Little Caesars Arena getting cold reviews”

  1. What a LAZY article, one that attempts to lay all the blame for the Wings’ ice concerns at the feet of the Pistons. 20 Total concerts and shows, including Fall Out Boy tonight since LCA opened, but only five total basketball games so far. The guy who handles the switching of the arena from one event to the next, said that because of all the other stuff, that the ice would be covered 98% of the time regardless, meaning that on the nights the Wings aren’t playing there, due to all the other events, that the ice would STILL be covered.

  2. If I’m not mistaken, the refrigeration plant at the Joe was ammonia-based. Surely the new arena has a modern refrigeration plant but sometimes you sacrifice quality (or ability) for efficiency. Just like the old R-12 cars had colder A/C than the new R-134A ones. Just a thought. There could even be radiant effects from the lighting or HVAC.

    Also, I guess it’s possible there could be some sort of difference in the composition of the water used to make the ice at a new site with new infrastructure.

    Didn’t Al Sabotka drive the original Joe Louis Zamboni over to the new arena? If so, we know it’s not that.

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