Unsafe ice at the Charlotte Coliseum forced officials to cancel Sunday night’s NHL exhibition between the Kings and New York Rangers.
Some 10,000 fans were sent home at 6:18 p.m. PDT, more than an hour after the scheduled 5 p.m. start. They were told refunds will be available starting Wednesday.
It was the second NHL game in three days canceled because of poor ice conditions. A game was called off Friday night at St. Petersburg, Fla., between the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders.
“They can reimburse my ticket money and they can reimburse my parking, but they can’t reimburse someone’s feelings,” said Mark Lange, a fan who drove 2 hours from Greenville, S.C., to see the game.
Added lifelong Ranger fan Joe Kennedy from Columbia, S.C.: “I’m disappointed and I understand why the game was called off. But I still wanted to see a hockey game.”
Kings’ center and nine-time NHL most valuable player Wayne Gretzky was eager to play his second consecutive game after recovering from a back injury suffered in the Canada Cup series.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100%,” Gretzky said. “I played Friday, I was going to play tonight. I’d say it’s good, not great.
“I don’t want to get into the debate about the ice. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t play.”
“We have been advised that the ice does not meet NHL standards,” Coliseum director Steve Camp said. “We’re all disappointed.”
The faulty ice, which was used Sunday morning by a youth hockey league, was unplayable because it was chipping too easily, according to event promoter Tony Arancio of Ajara Productions.
Arancio said the temperature was made too cold and therefore the ice was too hard. Players twice came out and warmed up, but within minutes they were marking chipped spots with water bottles.