Brock Myles, the Capitals' head equipment manager, has stockpiled as many cold-weather layering pieces and various other accoutrements that the players might need when they take to the outdoor rink at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh for the NHL's Winter Classic.
Unfortunately for Myles and the rest of the Capitals' equipment staff, there's not much they can do to make things easier on the players if it rains -- except possibly put some Rain-X on their visors.
"There's nothing we can put on the shields besides what we normally do," Myles said as the Capitals practiced outside at the Chevy Chase Club Tuesday afternoon. "That's the only thing I'm concerned about, is if it actually does have a little bit of moisture that the players will be constantly wiping their shields, but they do that anyways with towels."
Weather forecasts are predicting high temperatures ranging from the upper 40s to low 50s along with a 50 percent chance of rain. It was bright and sunny on Tuesday, so the Capitals experimented with various methods of applying eye black (some more warrior-like than others) with a temperature of 46 degrees. All players who wear visors have the option of switching to tinted visors if they so choose.
Regardless of the chance of rain, Myles said that if the temperature remains around the same mid-to-upper 40s range, the players won't really request anything different than they ordinarily do when playing indoors.
"The last two Winter Classics, the players didn't really wear that much more underwear or clothing under their equipment because they're skating so hard, they're sweating as it is," Myles said. "The benches are heated -- the benches are really warm -- so we've been advised that the players will not probably double up unless it's extremely cold. If it's a day like [Tuesday], they're not wearing anything special. Not one player asked me for a turtleneck, a long-sleeved shirt, anything."
The hardest part for Myles, though, hasn't been assembling the stores of cold-weather gear, or preparing to sharpen skates more. (No player needed their skates re-done in the middle of the past two Winter Classics, he said.) Rather, it's keeping up with players' ever-changing equipment preferences.
The Winter Classic gloves, helmets, pants and so on were all ordered months in advance with the specific colors and logos, but some players have switched brands or models of gloves or helmets since then.
"I have to scramble and make sure that the manufacturer has another glove ready to go in our Winter Classic colors," Myles said. "Jeff Schultz switched helmets while he was on the injured reserve list, so now we've got to make sure he's got the right helmet for the Winter Classic. Just things like that."
Relive those funny, profanity-laced comments from HBO's "24/7" here with our random quote generator.
Greg Wyshynski talks to Alan May about how the Capitals alumni might try to defend Mario Lemieux in the Caps-Penguins alumni game scheduled for Friday morning at Heinz Field. (Puck Daddy)
On the meteorologist who has stolen the spotlight for the Winter Classic, for the time being anyway. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)