By Cara Bahniuk
Outdoor games are now a special part of every hockey season, evoking memories of bygone days when all hockey was played outdoors.
During Karl Alzner’s 591-game career as a Washington Capital, he participated in two such outdoor games. Alzner spoke about those experiences, the first in Pittsburgh and the second at Nationals Park, as he prepares to “take it back to the roots” during Montreal’s NHL 100 Classic game on Saturday.
“I remember the first one in Pittsburgh. It rained. Everyone knows what water on the ice is like. Pucks were stopping all over the place,” Alzner said to NHL.com’s Matt Cudzinowski. “In Washington, though, it was so sunny that I could barely see a thing out there. It was warm, so temperature wasn’t an issue, but no one could really see anything in the first period because of the glare off the ice.”
It was so sunny that Alzner memorably wore sunglasses under his visor during the game, while his teammates went the more traditional route by wearing eye black.
No sunglasses will be needed on Saturday, as the NHL 100 will be played under the lights at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa.
“If it’s cold and snowy, I think it’ll be in the top five moments of my NHL career,” Alzner said.
The weather forecast for Saturday night is a crisp negative-15 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the frigid temperature would make most people balk, Alzner is actually excited about the prospect.
“I love watching football players go out there when it’s -20 and freezing at Lambeau Field,” Alzner said. “Maybe you get a little bit of separation between some guys and other guys that don’t like cold. You get to see how that plays into it. It’ll be right at the top for me because I love being outdoors.”
This will be Alzner’s first outdoor game played in Canada. The event will be graced with the presence of both his actual mother, Karen, and Jackie, his billet mother from when he played with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.
“Pittsburgh is big on hockey and Washington’s getting better, but it’s going to be a little bit cooler playing outside in Ottawa, in Canada,” Alzner said. “That’s what really excites me, being able to take it back to the roots. It’s going to be fun. It’s one of those things that we’ll get to talk about for a long time. That’s what I’ve noticed in the past. You bring up those memories quite a bit and chat about it.”
Headline Image: Rob Carr
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