Devils-Lightning: "POSTPONED", To Be Resumed From Where Game Was Stopped, According to NHL

Well, it is a very confusing night and a very disappointing night for the gang here at In Lou We Trust.  With 9:12 to go in the 2nd period of the game and New Jersey down 3-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, some of the lights just went out at Prudential Center.  After a nearly two hour delay, the game was termed "postponed" by National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman.  

In a statement to the media, Lamoriello stated the following:

"A circuit breaker went down, they found which one it was, and they could not get the computer to work with the circuit breaker.  PSE&G has been here, and they have determined that they will not get this fixed tonight, so the game was called."

Attempts were made to turn on all of the LED lights with in the arena, but it was determined that there was too much shadow and darkness on the ice to continue the game.  The Devils and Lightning will meet soon and set a mutual date at Prudential Center to play the game. 

Keep watching this post and the Devils official website for more info, and I assume Fischer will give you his thoughts by the end of the night.

UPDATE: Here's what NHL.com has as of now:

NEWARK, N.J. -- The game between the New Jersey Devils and Tampa Bay Lightning at Prudential Center is currently delayed because a bank of lights behind the goal defended by Martin Brodeur blew out with 9:12 remaining in the second period.

The malfunction occurred at about 8:18 p.m. (EST) and just 44 seconds after Lightning forward Steven Stamkos had given the visitors a 3-0 lead. It was only the seventh shot taken on Brodeur in the game.

Approximately 10 minutes after the problem occurred, it was announced that the teams would return to their dressing rooms while an attempt was made to fix the lighting problem.

That's all I have for now, as MSG has gone off the air as far as their telecast goes.  I'm sure John will have more when he gets back from the game, but let me just state a couple of things:

1. Give the Devils credit with how this was handled.  Was it perfect for fans in the arena?  No.  There were sparse updates for anyone actually sitting at the game, and people had to wait a long time.  However, there was a good job done of getting information through to the television viewers.  I'd be hardpressed to find an organization that would handle it better, and ultimately, calling the game at the point that it was called was probably the right time to do it.  

This was a unique situation for any sport, and something that has not occured since since Game 5 of the 1988 Stanley Cup Final, with a power outage happening in Boston, that forced the game to be abandoned, and then replayed in Edmonton.

2. That said, you can't help but be left with a bad taste in your mouth from all this.  It's simply unavoidable as you start to think of everything that transpired, the result of what part of the game was played.  This ends one of the more memorable nights in Devils history, but certainly not for good reasons.

FINAL OFFICIAL UPDATE: The NHL says the game will be resumed from where it was stopped:

The game will be rescheduled at a later date, and NHL spokesman Frank Brown said play will be resumed from the point at which the game was suspended. Both teams are scheduled to play Saturday -- New Jersey visits Montreal and Tampa Bay plays at Philadelphia.

Here's a last image, taken from our own John Fischer, of The Rock prior to closing (9:51 PM).  The ads, center ice scoreboard, and the concourse all had full power.  It was just the additional lights at the ends of the rink.

2010-01-08_21

FINAL FISCHER UPDATE:  I thought about making a separate post for this, but I decided against it. It continues after the jump but let me place the following in bold.  I'll repeat it below in a quote for additional emphasis, as it bears repeating.  If you want a news summary beyond what Steve has here, Tom Gulitti has all the pertinent quotes about why this took so long and what happens now.

Still, the Devils made a huge unforced error tonight.  There was literally no update from the Rock during this delay.  The PA kept playing music, RockVision (the scoreboard over center ice) played vignettes to fill time, and the announcer did his pregame spiels.  Fine.  I also get that in this unforseen circumstance that information was sparse and the Devils truly didn't have a clear answer on what was going on.  Fine.  But all the Devils had to do was say the following (or something like it):

"We apologize for the delay. The game is on hold due to a technical issue.  We are working to resolve this issue as soon as possible and we appreciate your patience in the meantime."

That's it. That wouldn't even take a minute to read over the PA. Sure, people would still be unhappy but at least the sentiment would be "This sucks, the Devils can't fix the lighting issue" instead of "This sucks, the Devils can't fix the lighting issue and they didn't even say anything until about 2 hours after it happened."  

I'm certainly sympathetic to what happened tonight, but even I'm unhappy that the Devils made no announcement.   That's just poor customer service.   If something's screwed up, the best action is to be upfront about it.  Even if you don't know why there's an issue or you don't know how it can be fixed, it's far better to say to the paying public "We don't know for sure what went wrong, but we're doing our best to fix it" than to stay quiet while trying to do so.  Instead, fans milled about on their phones and had conversations passing rumors of what was going on.  While there didn't need to be a constant stream of updates on the scoreboard, but a simple message like the example I gave earlier even at the beginning of the delay would have been far better than nothing.  That they didn't is, in my opinion as a fan who was at the Rock for the whole delay, inexcusable and that's fully the fault of the Devils and Prudential Center organizations.

 

First, the game itself.  The game was an example of quality beating quantity. The Devils looked very good on even strength, but the Lightning converted on their first power play off a point-blank tip from Steve Downie who was screening Martin Brodeur and the Devils made two horrific mistakes in their own end that led to goals.  On the Devils' third kill of the night, Rob Niedermayer loses a puck he shouldn't have lost at all, the defense stands around as Brandon Bochenski kills it from the high slot.  Maybe Brodeur could have had that one, maybe not; but he was hung out to dry later on.  I believe it all began with a Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond's cross-ice pass was picked off and soon after Mike Mottau and Colin White have a chance to take the puck back on defense but completely blow it. They cough up the puck to Martin St. Louis.  He and Steve Stamkos blow by White and Mottau and were all alone with Brodeur and of course they scored. 

A point blank tip-in and two boneheaded decisions on defense led to a 3 goal deficit, all in spite of the Devils otherwise rolling the Lightning in terms of possession and in shots (20 to 7).  It doesn't matter if the shot differential was 40 to 3 if the 3 against were high quality shots that they scored on.   The game was an exercise in frustration to watch.  While the Devils skated like they did against Dallas, the errors in their own end made sure it didn't matter.

Then the lights behind Brodeur went out.  Honestly, it never became dark at the Rock; the lighting in that end (where I sit in Section 1) looked like it did in pregame.   Needless to say, I don't need to go into depth with what happened and the eventual result.   I will say that I completely understand that the electrical issue was an unfortunate occurrence, the Devils and the Prudential Center staff made numerous attempts, and the league wanted to see if this game could somehow be played.  I fully understand safety would be an issue even with a dimmed rink, there's no need to take a risk with shadows if it'll lead to injuries.  I may not like it, but I understand.  Honestly, nobody benefits from this postponement, really.   To that end, I can see why the Devils, Lightning, and NHL took close to 2 hours to make a final decision on what to do.

Aside from the obvious differences, I liken this to a rainout in baseball.  The game will be picked up where it left off, which is absolutely the right call in this case.  I give full credit on the NHL for being upfront and clear about it so quickly

Huge, huge, huge thanks to Steve Lepore in the GameThread for his relaying of comments from the broadcast as well as this very post.  Big thanks to Cassie of Raw Charge for keeping people posted on what she could find.

I can't blame the Devils for what happened with the lights.  I can and will blame them for is keeping the fans at the Rock totally in the dark on the situation.   Only two announcements were made: first for the players going to the locker room until the issue was resolved and the one for the postponement, which everyone who stayed figured out when the staff removed the goals and sticks from the benches.  Those who stayed for the whole two hours  were understandably upset.  The many who left prior to that were understandably upset.  Even a few morons threw their free hats (and one plastic bottle) on the ice to the only cheers within those hours.  I heard some of them say they won't come back.  With garbage like that, I won't miss them (Aside: Do they throw trash on a baseball field of rain postpones a game? Whatever).

Still, the Devils made a huge unforced error tonight.  There was literally no update from the Rock during this delay.  The PA kept playing music, RockVision (the scoreboard over center ice) played vignettes to fill time, and the announcer did his pregame spiels.  Fine.  I also get that in this unforseen circumstance that information was sparse and the Devils truly didn't have a clear answer on what was going on.  Fine.  But all the Devils had to do was say the following:

"We apologize for the delay. The game is on hold due to a technical issue.  We are working to resolve this issue as soon as possible and we appreciate your patience in the meantime."

That's it. That wouldn't even take a minute to read over the PA. Sure, people would still be unhappy but at least the sentiment would be "This sucks, the Devils can't fix the lighting issue" instead of "This sucks, the Devils can't fix the lighting issue and they didn't even say anything until about 2 hours after it happened."  

I'm certainly sympathetic to what happened tonight, but even I'm unhappy that the Devils made no announcement.   That's just poor customer service.   If something's screwed up, the best action is to be upfront about it.  Even if you don't know, it's far better to say to the paying public "We don't know for sure what went wrong, but we're doing our best to fix it" than to stay quiet while trying to do so.  There didn't need to be a constant stream of updates, but a simple message even at the beginning of the delay would have been far better than nothing.  That's inexcusable and that's at fault of the organization of the Devils and Prudential Center.

Now that it's happened, the Devils absolutely need to respond.  For many people, what happened tonight will be a reason that they'll use to not return.  If tonight was someone's first hockey game or first Devils game, then this is what they'll remember and that's damaging to the organization as a whole.  As far as what to do about the rescheduled game, that can happen when it's decided upon.  Personally, I think those who went to tonight's game should have their stubs honored when the game resumes at a later date.  A refund option wouldn't be a bad idea either.  At a minimum, the Devils need to issue an apology, accept responsibility for the issue, (the Prudential Center is their building), and be at the forefront of doing what they need to do make the fans happy or at least quell their anger. 

That's all I have to add.  Tomorrow, a not-fatigued Devils team will play in Montreal and life can return to normal.

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