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Icy hot? Light shade of blue impressive

3/15/2005 - Buffalo Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- If the ice is colored a soft shade of blue,
what does that make hockey's blue lines? Orange of course.

Don't adjust your TV sets -- the Buffalo Sabres are using
Rochester, their AHL farm club, to try out a new colored ice
surface that could become the standard once the NHL resumes
playing.

The first test comes Sunday, when Rochester plays Cleveland at
Buffalo.

"It's an experiment, let's leave it at that," Sabres managing
partner Larry Quinn said Tuesday while watching Rochester practice.

Quinn said the test came after NHL officials discussed whether
changing the ice color from white would enhance how the game is
viewed by fans in arenas and on television.

The Sabres offered to try it and, after some experimentation,
settled on painting the sheet in what they call "electric powder
blue." To offset the new colored surface, arena officials decided
to make the blue lines fluorescent orange, which is also the color
used for the faceoff circles.

The center line, normally red, is now dark blue.

NHL officials will attend the game to study the changes and how
the new colors might affect the play or change the viewing
experience. The Sabres will also produce a game video that will be
sent to the league offices for review.

"We'll monitor it for sure," NHL spokesman Frank Brown said.

At first glance, the new color schemes are distinctive. The blue
provides a softer tone than the glare that generally reflects off
the white surface.

"It gives a very good first impression," Rochester Americans
president Steve Donner said. "When you first walk into the
building, it's like, 'Wow.'"

Americans' players liked it.

"It's kind of cool, actually," forward Thomas Vanek said. "It
doesn't affect my game."

Goaltender Ryan Miller said he initially had difficulty picking
up the puck, but is in favor of changing colors if it helps market
the game.

"Any kind of change would help," Miller said. "If they feel
like people aren't able to watch or follow on TV, we should make it
more television-friendly."

There's only one question left if the new colors ever came into
effect: what would you call a defenseman?

"Guess, I'd become an orange-liner," Jeff Jillson said.