For Winter Classic, Caps will sport a vintage look against Penguins

The Capitals' Mike Knuble was on hand at Heinz Field to promote the Winter Classic.
The Capitals' Mike Knuble was on hand at Heinz Field to promote the Winter Classic. (Keith Srakocic/associated Press)
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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

PITTSBURGH -- Three seasons ago the Washington Capitals harkened back to their red, white and blue roots. In next year's Winter Classic, they're going all the way back.

Alex Ovechkin and Co. will wear jerseys adorned with the Capitals' original crest, complete with blue letters, a red hockey stick for the 'L' and six stars over the city and team name when they face off with the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Year's Day.

The complete uniform, which won't be revealed until the Capitals' fan convention in October, will strongly resemble those from the Rod Langway era based on the logo that was unveiled Tuesday at Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Steelers and site of the NHL's fourth annual outdoor showcase.

The league picked the Capitals and Penguins for two reasons: They boast the game's biggest stars in Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, and because even in the slowest time of the season, the teams' longtime rivalry never seems to cool off.

Max Talbot made sure there's no doubt about the latter. In an interview on Pittsburgh's 105.9 "The X" Tuesday morning, the Penguins winger said of Ovechkin: "I'm kind of happy he's not [in Pittsburgh for the news conference]. I didn't want to see him. I just hate the guy. . . . I can't lie, sorry."

Later in the same interview, Talbot, pressed about his disdain for the Capitals' captain, added: "[Evgeni] Malkin knew Ovechkin and introduced me to him [at the 2009 NHL Awards in Las Vegas] and the first impression wasn't great."

This Winter Classic didn't need any more fuel. But that didn't stop Talbot from pouring a can of gasoline on it.

Given the chance to explain himself at Tuesday's news conference, Talbot downplayed his comments.

"It's always a big rivalry and whatever you say the other team is not going to like," Talbot said. "He's a great player but he's not fun to play against. What can you say, stir up a little intensity?

"It was more about on-the-ice stuff than off the ice," Talbot added. "You hate to play against him. That's what I meant."

Mike Knuble and David Steckel, who represented the Capitals at Heinz Field, weren't convinced."It's bulletin-board material," Steckel said with a smirk, "and it's not quite August yet."

Knuble added: "It's the end of July and somebody's got to say something. It just adds to the rivalry. . . . I can't imagine any of our players saying something like that about Sidney Crosby."

After the trash talk and a quirky contest in which the players shot pucks from the field through the football goal posts (Steckel hit one from near the 50-yard line), NHL and NBC officials conducted a "site survey," hoping to figure out the best location for the rink inside the 65,000-seat stadium as well as ideal camera locations.

"It's the first time that our guys have got inside the building and are starting to formulate the plans," NHL chief operating officer John Collins said. "Most of the plans will get drawn off of this meeting."

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