Gearing Up for the Winter Classic

Comcast’s Corey Masisak offered an informative and should-be-read piece on NHL.com recently about the equipment-preparation side of the Winter Classic. We wanted to add in a few details from a conversation OFB had with the Capitals’ head equipment manager, Brock Myles. The Winter Classic, after all, represents a remarkable challenge for the Capitals’ equipment staff: already tasked with gearing up the guys for the rapid pace of NHL play, these behind-the-scenes guys on New Years Day must also have the Caps ready for outdoor conditions . . . and in the case of this year’s game, potentially rapidly changing, rapidly deteriorating conditions.

  • Myles told us that getting prepared for the Winter Classic has actually been about a four-to-five month project. Miniscule details have to be approved, even down to the nature of a sticker that gets affixed on a helmet.
  • NFL gear that Myles has in store for the guys — should it be needed — includes the eye-black football players commonly wear to combat the sun and glare, and wide receiver gloves for warmth.
  • Again, something Corey mentioned in his piece and Myles also confirmed with us was that the benches are heated. But of course the challenge this weekend for both the Caps and Pens appears to be less about staying warm and more about remaining dry.
  • The Caps have been going through “dress rehearsals” for this Winter Classic since December 17th, which basically means wearing different parts of the January 1 uniform in practice.
  • Glare and wind. These are the outdoor conditions that Capitals players have most commonly referenced this week as concerns/challenges related to the game. Even in overcast conditions glare can be an obstacle. Those of you who attended Wednesday’s outdoor practice in Chevy Chase, Md., noticed how liberally all Capitals skaters applied eye-black; that’s to address visions issues related to sun and glare. And Bruce Boudreau noted that even something as seemingly modest as a 2-mile-per-hour breeze alters the passing and playmaking conditions NHLers are used to indoors.
  • Ironically, the presence of 70,000 spectators at Heinz Field Saturday isn’t expected to pose a communications challenge for Capitals’ coaches and trainers and their players on the ice. The rink is set well within the stadium, well away from spectators. Moreover, in previous Winter Classics — and especially with the 2003 Heritage Classic that inaugurated all this outdoor fun — fans have been so layered and bundled up it’s difficult for them to make noise with anything but their voices.
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This entry was posted in National Hockey League, Outdoor hockey, Washington Capitals, Winter Classic, Winter Classic 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

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