Following their sun-splashed practice at Nationals Park on Wednesday, the Washington Capitals stayed on the ice for an informal skate around the outdoor rink, joined by their friends and family — and there were plenty of them. Michael Latta got around 50 tickets for his guests, though he’s not the Capitals leader. According to Latta, John Carlson asked for even more. While the media was ushered away from the rink during the skate, NHL Network cameras and the Caps Twitter account captured some of the heartwarming moments.
The Winter Classic is almost here. On Wednesday, the Capitals skated on the Nationals Park ice for the first time, practicing for almost an hour before taking to the ice with their friends and families. During the midday practice, they encountered shadows and glare, with some players resorting to unusual measures. But before all that, they gathered together at center ice to take the official Winter Classic team photo, decked out in their full game day attire. It looks splendid.
If there’s one person who’s excited for this year’s Winter Classic, it’s Alex Ovechkin. The Russian machine went nuts on Instagram this morning, posting a bunch of photos and dizzying video before their 11:30am practice.
On Tuesday, the Washington Capitals took to the ice in front of a huge crowd at Kettler. With only one more practice before the Winter Classic, Caps goaltender Braden Holtby brought out his new, retro-designed gear and attempted to get it game-ready. That included a new mask, glove, blocker, pads, and a stick– all with a retro flair.
As we’ve documented before, Holtby’s mask design is based off one of Olie Kolzig’s first NHL buckets. Holtby has some more personal tributes on the mask some fans might not know about. His son’s name Benjamin was airbrushed on the backplate along with the flags of Saskatchewan and Alberta, Holtby’s home. The Japanese symbol meaning “Constant Improvement,” a staple of every Holtby mask, is also present.
RMNB’s Amanda Bowen captured all of Holtby’s gear below. He’s going to look good New Year’s Day.
Bondra scores late in the game. (Photos by Chris Gordon)
This year’s NHL Winter Classic has not had much buildup. Aside from the game, there isn’t much going on. The lack of an official alumni game — which had become a tradition at Winter Classics — angered and vexed many fans. Washington cancelled this year’s Caps Convention, saying they wanted to focus on Winter Classic events and has been hyping its former players all year long, with this season being the team’s fortieth anniversary. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, and Caps owner Ted Leonsis have all given competing answers as to why the event didn’t occur. Nevertheless, a group of former Caps, media members, and As Seen on TV people like NBC’s Washington Amelia Segal, took to the Nationals Park ice on Tuesday afternoon as part of an informal skate that came together in the past few weeks.
“I guess we all unfairly assumed that there would be one,” Alan May, who played in the game, said of an official alumni game, noting that Rod Langway and numerous former Blackhawks and Capitals expressed interest. “There’s nothing that can be done about it.”
I rolled out of bed yesterday and headed to Nationals Park. The NHL was letting media members in for one final sneak peek before the Winter Classic festivities get underway on Tuesday. The ice crew finished painting the ice and placing the logos, but what really captured my interest was the crew of men attempting to erect a mini Capitol dome in center field, near where the teams will enter. After showing a few butt cracks and spending 45 minutes, the team finally got the top of the dome placed. It was joyous. It also appears a thing that vaguely looks like the White House will stand alongside the dome, which, it must be noted, does not figure the corrected scaffolding and white sheets surrounding it.