'It's the emblem for the community.' Crews prep ice for Isles' preseason
The Islanders will play their preseason opener at UBS Arena on Wednesday. Fans will be paying close attention to the lineup and star players such as Bo Horvat, Mat Barzal and Ryan Pulock.
Dan Craig, the head of facility operations for the Islanders, also hopes fans will appreciated his team's work on the ice. It's his job to make sure the ice is perfect, and it starts with the logo.
Craig and his team are the ones who paint the Isles' logo at center ice before the start of every season. He says "paint day" feels like the start of the season for his crew of workers, who also apply the sponsor logos and paint all of the lines on the ice too.
With the exception of the sponsor logos, which are decals, everything Craig and his crew does is by hand.
"It's more the knees and the back than anything else," says Craig of the backbreaking work.
They start by "removing the heat" from the arena's concrete floor. Next, they apply three coats of white paint on the floor. Then, they paint the lines and the goalie creases. Finally, the logo is put down.
"It's the emblem for the community, that's what this fanbase is all about. That's what it is," said Craig about the pride he and his team take in applying the logo. "When we're doing something for this community and this fanbase, that's what we have to be precise on."
To paint the logo the crew starts by laying a paper stencil at center ice. The stencil is an outline of the logo. The lines of the logo are actually small circles. Craig's crew puts a layer of chalk over the paper outline, brushes it in and then carefully removes the paper. The chalk outline of the Isles logo remains on the ice. That's what gets painted and sealed onto the ice. Craig says the process usually takes about four hours.
"When we look at the logo on our chest, we want that logo to look exactly like that. When you take a look at the hockey stick itself (on the logo), when you have the four stripes on there, that means a lot and those stripes for me had better be straight," explains Craig, who oversees the process and previously worked for the NHL operations department for 24 years.
Craig says when it's done his crew will gather on the ice and take pictures of their work. After all, he says the crew is made up of "artists" and proud to share their finished product.