Winter Classic: 3 things to watch

There are plenty of storylines to follow heading into this year's Winter Classic, including players possibly wearing sunglasses during the outdoor game, and the Washington Capitals honouring the tragic passing of a member of the Blackhawks' training staff.

Capitals to honour Blackhawks' trainer Clint Reif

With the NHL's premier event upon us, many hockey fans will be turning their attention from gift giving and turkey stuffing back towards the action on the ice.

If you haven't been following Road to the NHL Winter Classic, you may have missed some of the story lines heading into the big game at Nationals Park on New Year's Day.

Don't fret. Here are some of top things to watch for when the players and fans take to the outdoors.

Capitals to honour Hawks' trainer

The Washington Capitals and their training staff came up with a special way to honour the passing of one of their own.

When the Capitals take the ice New Year's Day, they will be wearing a decal on their helmets with the initials CR to commemorate Clint Reif, the assistant equipment manager for the Chicago Blackhawks, who tragically died Dec. 21 at the age of 34.

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz told the media Wednesday, he asked Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville and his training staff for approval.

Trotz discussed how close the brotherhood of trainers is within the NHL, something Quenneville reiterated as he reacted to the news of Reif's passing during the taping of Road to the NHL Winter Classic.

Winter Classic could get cool new look

The NHL says it may have to push back puck drop on the game due to sunny skies creating glare on the ice.

This may not be a typical problem for the organizers of the annual game, but it is causing issues with the players seeing the puck.

Well, it appears the Washington Capitals training staff have found a solution after providing Karl Alzner and other members of the Capitals sunglasses to wear during the club's team skate Wednesday.

The shades cut down on the glare so well, the defenceman is hoping to wear a pair during the game Thursday.

According to the NHL, Alzner will get his wish. There is nothing the NHL rule book preventing players from wearing sunglasses on the ice.

A little bit of eye black and a pair of those shiny multicoloured spectacles, and people will begin to think Alzner is the Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper.

Orpik a game time decision

Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik will skate during warmups Thursday to determine if he will play in the Winter Classic

Orpik didn't practice Wednesday as the team went through its paces on the outdoor rink at Nationals Park. He injured his right knee Monday night against the New York Islanders.

Coach Barry Trotz said Orpik was doing better and that there was no structural damage to the knee. But Trotz added: "We will not put him at risk" just to play him in the Classic. Orpik has played in two previous Winter Classic games with the Pittsburgh Penguins.


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