150 HOCKEY ON THE HILL

Work be­gins on out­door rink

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - WAYNE SCANLAN ws­can­lan@post­media.com twit­ter/@hock­eyscan­ner

It seems a bit early to be con­struct­ing an out­door hockey rink.

Yet, work­ers were lay­ing the ground­work Thurs­day for what fig­ures to be a unique skat­ing pad on the lawn of Par­lia­ment Hill, one that should pro­vide fit­ting clo­sure to Canada 150 cel­e­bra­tions.

Her­itage Canada, along with the Ottawa Sen­a­tors and the Bell Cap­i­tal Cup tour­na­ment, have an­nounced the tem­po­rary rink will be used for var­i­ous pub­lic skat­ing and hockey ini­tia­tives from Dec. 7 to 31.

It isn’t hard to imag­ine a New Year’s Eve cel­e­bra­tion at the Hill, on and around an out­door arena in the heart of the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. By then, the Canada 150 fes­tiv­i­ties will have come full cir­cle, as they be­gan with a splashy send­off last New Year’s Eve, with mu­sic and fire­works at the foot of Par­lia­ment Hill.

For hockey fans, though, the sight of a skat­ing rink be­ing built on the Hill will be bit­ter­sweet. Just a year ago, the Sen­a­tors were still hold­ing out hope of ac­com­mo­dat­ing tens of thou­sands of peo­ple for an NHL Out­door Clas­sic at this iconic venue. The po­ten­tial was there for spec­tac­u­lar back­drop cam­era shots for an NHL game.

Last Novem­ber, that idea was of­fi­cially nixed as Her­itage Canada deemed the lo­gis­tics of stag­ing a full-sized NHL event, for up to 30,000 spec­ta­tors, un­fea­si­ble.

Se­cu­rity and ac­cess is­sues were raised, as the day-to-day work­ings of par­lia­men­tary busi­ness had to be con­sid­ered.

There were sec­ondary is­sues, among them the nu­mer­ous rules and reg­u­la­tions on Par­lia­ment, which ban the sale of com­mer­cial prod­ucts, food and al­co­hol.

In­stead, the re­gion will set­tle for what could be billed as the ‘Out­door Game Lite’ at Par­lia­ment Hill. The ac­tual NHL game (the NHL 100 Clas­sic be­tween the Sen­a­tors and vis­it­ing Montreal Cana­di­ens) will take place in the open air of the Lans­downe Park foot­ball sta­dium on Dec. 16.

The Sen­a­tors were count­ing on se­cur­ing the Par­lia­ment Hill venue for the Out­door Clas­sic and only grudg­ingly ac­cepted the Lans­downe Park home of the CFL Red­blacks as a Plan B.

It does have its prag­matic ad­van­tages, as the 2017 Grey Cup will take place there on Nov. 26 and the NHL will be able to use some of the same tem­po­rary seat­ing in place for the Grey Cup. The NHL 100 Clas­sic is de­signed to mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the in­au­gu­ral NHL game be­tween Ottawa and Montreal, played on Dec. 19, 1917.

The Sen­a­tors will be look­ing to avenge a 7-4 loss to the Cana­di­ens in that first en­counter in 1917.

Mean­while, on the Hill this De­cem­ber, in­stead of Erik Karls­son and the Sen­a­tors against the Cana­di­ens, fans could be treated to a de­cid­edly lower key alumni game in­volv­ing for­mer Sen­a­tors play­ers. But that is not all.

While the full de­tails are yet to be an­nounced, the Sen­a­tors con­firmed Thurs­day that the events to take place on Par­lia­ment Hill in­clude a prac­tice by the cur­rent Sen­a­tors team, Sen­a­tors alumni events, com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties and op­por­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren and youth.

“This will be an in­cred­i­bly unique rink, set on Canada’s pre-em­i­nent back­drop, Par­lia­ment Hill,” said Sen­a­tors owner Eu­gene Mel­nyk in a state­ment.

Con­sid­er­ing the op­er­at­ing dates for the tem­po­rary rink over­lap the an­nual Bell Cap­i­tal Cup hockey tour­na­ment at the Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre (Dec. 27-31) and other lo­cal rinks, it is ex­pected there will be at least some Bell Cap­i­tal Cup in­volve­ment at Par­lia­ment Hill.

Todd White, a for­mer Sen­a­tors cen­tre and hon­orary chair of the Bell Cap­i­tal Cup, said the op­por­tu­nity for chil­dren to skate and play hockey out­doors on the Hill “will pro­vide a pure and unique Cana­dian fam­ily hockey ex­pe­ri­ence for the par­tic­i­pat­ing chil­dren and teams.”

Be­yond the Sen­a­tors and their mi­nor hockey tour­na­ment, Her­itage Canada has its own mar­quee events planned for this up and com­ing skat­ing fa­cil­ity.

On Dec. 7, the of­fi­cial rink open­ing co­in­cides with the an­nual Christ­mas Lights Across Canada spec­ta­cle, a mul­ti­me­dia show with fire­works and mu­sic.

The rink launch also dove­tails nicely with the Canada 150 Skat­ing Day al­ready sched­uled for Dec. 10, a na­tional event in­volv­ing com­mu­nity are­nas through­out the coun­try.

TONY CALD­WELL

Con­struc­tion crews be­gin build­ing a skat­ing rink on Par­lia­ment Hill on Thurs­day. The rink will be used from Dec. 7 to 31.

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