New York Today: Getting Ready for the Rangers


Ice, ice, baby.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Good morning on this sparkling Tuesday.

It’s a bone-chilling 10 degrees.

On the ice at Madison Square Garden, that is.

As many enjoy some spillover from summer — in the form of today’s sunshine and 80-something-degree weather — a group of New Yorkers have been working tirelessly at the Garden to prepare the rink for the Rangers.

At 7 a.m. on Labor Day, Jack Durkin, who has been part of the arena’s ice crew for 29 years, left the beach to begin setting down the ice. When we visited him on the job last week, he and his team were putting on the finishing touches.

“Today, there’s one sole task,” Mr. Durkin told us. “Spray water, get 10,000 gallons down, and create an inch of ice.”

The ice temperature, which stays at about 21 degrees during a hockey game, first needed to be dropped to 10. The cleat-clad crew then took to the ice — their steps sounding similar to tap dancers on a wooden stage — and with a wand hose in hand they crisscrossed the surface, from Seventh to Eighth Avenue and back again, spraying a thin layer of water around the rink.

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After a few days of spraying — and listening to a good amount of Marc Anthony to keep things interesting — the team had crossed the ice hundreds of times, traveling nearly 15 miles, to create a one-inch-thick sheet of ice.


Jack Durkin, a native New Yorker, leads the ice-making crew at Madison Square Garden for the Rangers.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

We realized, though, that there’s still a month before hockey season officially begins. So, we wondered, between all the concerts and basketball games on tap, might all the ice melt by then?

Not quite.

“Think of it as a big refrigerator,” Mr. Durkin said. He and the ice crew will lay large “insulation boards” across the ice, lock them into place and leave them there to keep the ice, well, icy, during Knicks games and Paul McCartney gigs in the coming weeks.

Once hockey season starts, a group of night owls working the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift at the Garden will be responsible for…

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