Dave Hyde: Precipitating a crisis, I'm grounded for Game 3 but Panthers fly on to Edmonton

Dave Hyde, South Florida Sun-Sentinel on

Published in Hockey

My hopes of traveling to Edmonton to cover the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final weren’t dampened Wednesday. They were drowned.

Who knew you could be rained out of a hockey game?

That’s how my very bad, very wet, very, very long day of non-travel went until the late-afternoon email came that my flight had been canceled. And there’s no way to get to Edmonton for Game 3 on Thursday because of the weather. But enough of me. There was a bigger weather-or-not story out there Wednesday:

The Panthers charter plane was stuck at the Fort Lauderdale airport Wednesday afternoon waiting for a break in the weather.

That temporarily added another question to a series full of them after two games: What happens if they drop the puck Thursday night and the Panthers are 30,000 feet over southern Alberta?

Flying to Edmonton is hard enough without taking on some Old Testament weather. It’s a quicker trip from South Florida to London or Rio De Janeiro than Edmonton. More fun, too. Not that we can make meteorological jokes about Edmonton’s 11 months of winter anymore when we’re the ones fouling up this series.

My Wednesday started with the normal chaos involved in a 7:35 a.m. flight out of the Miami airport. Everything was on time. The plane pushed back. The flight attendant began the safety spiel. And … then we stopped and sat on the tarmac. And sat.

It was the normal travel hell a seasoned sports writer like me is used to. Until it became abnormal. Thirty minutes of the pilot’s cautioned wait became 30 more. And 30 more. The pilot said only one runway was open because of the weather and 60 planes in the air had precedence.

Two hours later, we had to roll back to the gate to get fuel, we were told. I was just happy we weren’t changing the plane for an ark.

They let people off the plane into the terminal, saying they had no planned time to leave. My connection was missed in Denver. I called the airline and the option was a fight with an 11-hour layover in Seattle, arriving Thursday morning, or a 3:25 p.m. flight out of Fort Lauderdale that could get me into Edmonton at 10 p.m. Wednesday night.

So, I went home before noon and waited a bit. And the 3:25 p.m. flight was pushed to 8 p.m. And my connection to Edmonton was missed again. And then came the email that my flight was canceled altogether. And there was no way to get there Thursday in time for the game.


When it rains, it pours, right?

The good news: The Panthers’ charter flight made it out of Fort Lauderdale after a few-hour delay. So, Game 3 will go on as scheduled Thursday night.

Will the Weather Channel broadcast the series now?

This cements South Florida as a fair-weather hockey town, doesn’t it?

One more: In an area that knows water hazards, who knew water hazards were part of hockey?

As an old sports writer, I’ve had my brushes with weather. A whiteout of snow driving from Syracuse to Buffalo in football season. A couple of all-nighters in airports for disrupted travel plans. Passport trouble in Helsinki on the way to the Olympics in Norway. But this is the first time the weather won.

The flights remain a mess as I type late Wednesday afternoon, so I’m not sure if getting to Edmonton is a possibility even for Saturday’s Game 4. Then again, there is a silver lining. I don’t have to go to Edmonton

Sure, it’s always a fun adventure going on the road and watching a South Florida team chase a title. Watching excellence is always the best part of the job. But the adventure on ice became a misadventure on water Wednesday.

A prediction for Thursday’s Game 3? Yeah, I got one: Mostly cloudy with a chance for continued flash flooding.

Rain, rain go away, come again another Stanley Cup Final.

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