Despite all of that, the Winter Classic game between the rival Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals was a success.
Fans refused to be let down by rain and slush
The NHL's 2011 Winter Classic - the outdoor game between the rival Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals on January 1 - was far from picture perfect.
Truth be told, there was nothing winter or classic about it at all - there was rain instead of snow and the ice conditions were only slightly superior to slush. The temperature was over 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10°C) when the puck was dropped and it rained enough to create puddles and wreak serious havoc with the players' ability to perform.
Despite all of that, however, the game was a success.
First of all, it was completed, nobody was hurt, and the two teams - whose intense mutual dislike is not an act - delivered a fast-paced, entertaining product in spite of the on-ice challenges. But the Winter Classic, like the NFL's Super Bowl, has become much more about the spectacle of the event than the actual game itself.
With its grass-roots appeal and pond-hockey allure, the game has captured the imagination of the casual American fan, which just happens to be the demographic that's most cherished - and sought-after - by the NHL.
With nearly 70,000 fans in the stands at Heinz Field - waving Terrible Towels and refusing to let a few raindrops dampen their enthusiasm - the atmosphere at the Winter Classic was everything the NHL could have hoped for.
And really, that is what this game is all about - a magical and memorable ice hockey event that attracts fans from the very casual to the ice hockey hardcore.