Here’s the official announcement from the NHL. Note all the contingencies in case the game can’t be played or completed:
NHL ANNOUNCES NEW 8 PM (ET) START TIME FOR 2011 BRIDGESTONE NHL WINTER CLASSIC ON NEW YEAR’S DAY DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER FORECAST
PITTSBURGH (December 31, 2010) — The National Hockey League announced today the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will change the original 1 p.m. (ET) start time on New Year’s Day to 8 p.m. (ET). The decision was based on the latest meteorological reports, which have advised an approaching front of potentially steady rain expected to fall through the afternoon and taper off by early evening, and after consultation with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals, national broadcast partners (NBC, CBC, RDS), the Pittsburgh Steelers, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, and local officials.
We have been further advised that cooler and drier air conditions are expected in the evening with the passing of the front. The NHL feels that it was important to make this announcement at this time so as to minimize the inconvenience to all parties associated with the event, especially our fans.
All 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic tickets will continue to be honored and all ticket holder agreement language remains unchanged.
The following is a list of changes for FANS based on the new 8 p.m. (ET) start time:
Gates to Heinz Field will now open at 5:30 p.m. (ET)
Pre-game entertainment now begins at 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Heinz Field Parking Lots will now open at 2:30 p.m. (ET)
Spectator Plaza will now open at 3 p.m. (ET)
The following are the weather-related GAME procedure contingencies for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic:
Once the game has begun, it may be subject to one or more temporary stoppages due to unplayable weather conditions, at the discretion of the Commissioner.
Period and game format may be reconfigured to accommodate temporary stoppages as determined appropriate by the Commissioner.
The clubs will switch ends at the 10:00 minute mark of the third period as signaled by a “hard whistle.” The face off will take place where the play was whistled dead. This identical procedure will take place at the 2:30 minute mark of an overtime period, if needed.
In the event of a shootout, each club will determine what end they prefer to defend, which could be the same end.
If the game is started, then stopped permanently due to unplayable weather conditions, it will be deemed “official” once two periods have been played. The team leading at the time play is stopped will be declared the winner and will be awarded two points in the standings.
If the game is tied at the time play is stopped permanently, any time after two periods of play, each team will be awarded one point in the standings, with an opportunity to earn an additional point in a standard shootout format.
If weather conditions permit, the shootout will be conducted at Heinz Field immediately after regulation play has been stopped. If weather conditions make it impossible to conduct a shootout safely at Heinz Field, the shootout will take place at Verizon Center on Sunday, February 6 prior to the regularly scheduled Pittsburgh-Washington game.
If the game is started, and stopped permanently due to unplayable weather conditions, and fewer than two periods of regular time has been played, the game will be officially “postponed” and, if possible, will be played in its entirety at Heinz Field on Sunday, January 2, beginning at 12 p.m. (ET). If the game cannot be replayed at Heinz Field on January 2, it will be rescheduled at CONSOL Energy Center for a date to be determined later in the season.
Ticket holders must retain their tickets to gain re-entry to Heinz Field in the event the game is to be played Sunday, January 2. There will be no refunds for ticket holders unable to attend Sunday’s postponement date. If the event is canceled on Sunday, a refund of the ticket’s face value will be honored. The refund does not include service fees, and other fees such as delivery or processing fees. Ticket holders should review the back of their ticket for complete refund policy language.
FYI, guys, NBC still plans on filling the 1-4 time slot tomorrow with Winter Classic-related programming, including interviews and features and highlights from past Winter Classics … or you can watch The Honeymooners, like me.