2 days until the Capitals and Penguins Winter Classic

Before I talk about the Winter Classic, enjoy this video of Alex Ovechkin shooting pucks at Russian dolls filled with Russian dressing.

Okay!

As for the Winter Classic, which has the Washington Capitals visiting Pittsburgh to play the Penguins at Heinz Field, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rain is forecast (Capital Weather Gang, The Post) during period the game is scheduled. I would have no objection to the game being delayed by rain until, say 4 p.m., after the Outback Bowl is over because I will be watching Penn State vs. Florida. Mother nature may oblige, we’ll see. Otherwise, I will be watching the WC on tape delay. That reminds me, I need to ask The Maryland Bureau Chief which he will watch live.

I know a lot of Caps fans are heading to Pittsburgh to it and I wish them good luck and probably better ponchos. Personally, Outback Bowl or not, I had no interest in making the trip and don’t think the NHL should have allocated so many tickets to Caps season ticket holders. When the Winter Classic comes here (hopefully to Nationals Park) I want the stands completely full of Caps without thousands of visiting fans, but the precedent has been set. I expect the Rangers, Flyers or Bruins to be the Caps opponent when it finally happens with the first two most likely since their fans are not far away, but I guess I should not eliminate the Penguins from consideration given the NHL’s infatuation with them.

Since I am without HBO, I have not seen any of the 24/7 series that HBO is running on the 2 teams in the run up to Saturday’s game. Apparently, hockey players/coaches swearing is really entertaining. I have not see too much of the Caps either because there games coincide with my son’s nightly bath/bedtime ritual/odyssey. I can’t say I’m heartbroken about missing most of the recent 8 game losing streak the Caps were on, but I would have liked to see more of their last 5 games when they went 4-0-1 with the lone loss coming in the shootout to the Pens. Working in more screen time for the Caps is going to be tricky I fear.

Another thing — the special uniforms. I get that the NHL sees the game as an opportunity to sell another type of jersey, but I think that misses the overall point — to expand the awareness of the league. Stick to your existing brand i.e. the regular uniforms and push that. Make it special by having both teams wear colored sweaters, not half-assed one offs.

Oh and I have very staked on the outcome of Saturday’s game. The regular season just doesn’t matter too much, a fact that was reinforced strongly last spring. I want the Caps to win, but I will get over it if they don’t. Better to save those big wins for when they really matter.

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Nationals Park on ice?

Last week, after some Twitter discussion, @tbridge wrote a We Love DC post suggesting that a temporary ice rink be installed on the field at Nationals Park during the winter. The idea was prompted by a Times article about the Cleveland Indians trying that out this winter at Progressive Field nee Jacobs Field. For a few weeks Snow Days offers a 1/4 mile skating track and snow tubing hill. It looks like a great idea that would be a lot of fun but could it work in DC? There are several issues to consider:

  • The Indians are expecting to take a loss on Snow Days, something I don’t think the Washington Nationals would be inclined to do.
  • Is $25, what the Indians are charging, too expensive, even in DC? To me, that isn’t a trivial amount of money for what would likely be 2 hours of entertainment. NOTE: @tbridge notes that unlimited skating is $10 which is a much better deal. The snowtubing is extra.
  • According to JDLand, the Near Southeast Redevelopment site, the District has 18 days that it can it use Nationals Park for non-baseball events. I do not know how many days the Nats could use it for non-baseball events. I think in order to make this happen, the lease would have to be amended and that is something that they may not want to do. There are still hard feelings about the lease negotiations in 2004 and 2006 between the District and MLB. The Lerners, owners of the Nats, and the council have had their problems as well. There may be reluctance by those two parties to work together, especially if the revenue potential is uncertain.
  • How much damage would having a ice rink/track and snowtubing slide do to the field?
  • It will be very interesting to see how this goes in Cleveland.

    There is another potential icy offseason event that Nationals Park may host too — the NHL Winter Classic. When it was announced that the Washington Capitals would be traveling to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins on New Year’s Day 2011, it was also announced that the Caps would get to host a Winter Classic. The year has not yet been determined, nor has the site. Potential venues include Nationals Park, but also RFK Stadium, FedEx Field and even Baltimore. I have already stated my preference for the Caps Winter Classic being at Nationals Park and I have to think that Mark Lerner, who is also a minority owner of the Caps in addition to the Nats, should have some clout in making it happen. Playing the game in the shadow of the Capitol dome in the most modern facility makes the most sense. However, because we are talking about the NHL, I can’t trust them to do the right thing. Putting the Caps hosted Winter Classic in Baltimore would be a big middle finger/kick to the groin to DC and WASHINGTON Capitals fans.

    As for the upcoming Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, rain, the worst possible situation is expected (The Early Lead, The Post) and may cause the game to be delayed or postponed. I’d actually find a delay to Saturday night to be preferable, since I would no longer be competing with the Outback Bowl which features my Penn State Nittany Lions against the Florida Gators at 1 p.m.

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    Two Nats-centric chats on washingtonpost.com today

    I have a backlog of Washington Nationals commentary right now, but until I sort that all out (perhaps next week) there are two Post chats today that should be of interest:

    First Things First
    Adam Kilgore, Nats beat writer, is filling in for Tracee Hamilton today.

    Ask Boswell
    “Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell was online Thursday, Dec. 23 at 11 a.m. ET to take all your questions about baseball, the Redskins, the Wizards and more. “

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    Penn State wins 4th consecutive women’s volleyball title

    Penn State captures record fourth straight NCAA titleThe Collegian
    For the 4th consecutive season and fifth overall, the Penn State women’s volleyball team won the national championship. The Lady Spikers defeated Cal in straight sets. The Nittany Lions have eliminated the Golden Bears each of the last four years. Blair Brown, Alyssa D’Errico and Arielle Wilson all complete their careers with 4 championship rings. The championship was assured by Katie Slay‘s kill at match point. Of course it was.

    The Lady Spikers championship comes after a season where they were not as dominate as usual, starting Big Ten play 3-3 after seeing their 109-match winning streak end.

    Coach Russ Rose is now the first women’s volleyball coach to win 5 national titles.

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    Big Ten unveils Leaders and Legends divisions, Stagg-Paterno Trophy


    This afternoon, the Big Ten Conference revealed their new logo and the names of the divisions. The Leaders division includes Penn State, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State. The Legends division includes Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern.

    There are a whole lot of new trophies too and they all have hyphenated names. The winner of the championship game is awarded the Stagg-Paterno Trophy, named after Chicago coach Amos Alonzo Stagg and Penn State coach Joe Paterno. I find it amusing that the trophy is named after a coach whose school that left the conference over 60 years ago and somebody who entered only 17 years ago.

    My initial reaction is that the division names are a little pretentious, but I am okay with them because they are not named after Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler like I thought they would be. Naming divisions after a coach who got fired for hitting an opposing player and folded like Superman on laundry day in bowl games, respectively, would have been embarrassing to anyone not from the so-called “big 2″ of the conference. I am the Ohio State and Michigan fans are upset which is great for the rest of us. I’m disappointed there is a Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year trophy though.

    Penn Staters are included in the names of several trophies:

    Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year – Courtney Brown
    Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year – Ted Kwalick

    The linebacker trophy doesn’t include a Penn Stater though which is disappointing. I have no problem with Butkus being on the name, but I’d put several Nittany Lions above Pat Fitzgerald. We’ll just assume the conference needed to meet its Northwestern quota on that one.

    The logo proves once again that I need to set up a graphic design firm. The existing Big11Ten logo is clever, this new one is just there.

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    We happened upon the Berryville Christmas Parade

    Santa Claus rides the fire truck through Berryville
    BERRYVILLE, Va. — While driving to get a Christmas tree, our son fell asleep so we kept going up VA 7 West. After crossing the Shenandoah River, I decided we’d turn around by going through Berryville. I had never been through the little town and figured it’d be slightly more interesting to drive down US 340 South to VA 7 Business East than just make a u-turn. We saw that Berryville was a cute little town, but were in it for an unexpected duration. When we arrived at VA 7 Business East which is Main Street, I saw Scooby Doo walking down that thoroughfare. It turns out we arrived just in time for the Berryville Christmas Parade (Clarke County Daily News). Right about then, our son woke up. We watched a little of it, then got a chance to drive on through Main Street and tried to get out of town. Ultimately we wound up just a block away from where we were first delayed, so we caught the end of the parade and saw Santa Claus on a fire truck. Our son was amused.

    Maybe next year, we’ll consider watching the whole parade before we get our tree.

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    Mall of America Field roof collapse videos

    While I debate which was the bigger collapse, the Metrodome roof or the Washington Redskins field goal unit, check out these videos:

    Interestingly, the corporate name of the venue, Mall of America Field, is barely being used in coverage, except by me of course. Let me give a big welcome to Web searchers using the correct name of the dome.

    I hope the Minnesota Vikings have learned that football needs to be played outside. Perhaps they will just remove the whole thing and make it an outdoor facility moving forward.

    Oh and if you didn’t see it, I blame this on the Twin Cities stealing the term Snowmaggedon.

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