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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