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WASHINGTON — Karl Alzner looked cool.
“I was kind of thinking that it was the opposite, but thanks for saying that,” he said.
No, he did. In a game filled with Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals who were squinting through sun glare or slathered with eye black, Alzner was the only player who took advantage of a loophole in the NHL’s rules and wore sunglasses during the 2015 Winter Classic.
The Terminator was cool. Will Smith in "Men In Black" was cool. Karl Alzner, then, was also cool.
“For me, it was funny to do it,” said Alzner, after the Washington Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Blackhawks at Nationals Park on Thursday. “But in the long run, it was the best for me in seeing the puck. I don’t know how the other guys [played] without them.”
Alzner tried out the Oakley sunglasses during his team’s New Year’s Eve practice. The Caps hit the ice around 11:30 a.m., and the sun illuminated the rink. The team’s trainers had given the players a care package of items to battle the elements in the outdoor game, including sunglasses. Alzner had intended on wearing his own during the practice skate, but switched to the team-issued ones instead.
He said they “did the trick” in reducing the glare. “As long as it’s in the rules, I’m going to try it tomorrow if it’s sunny,” said Alzner on Wednesday.
There was some question as to whether or not the NHL would allow players to wear sunglasses during the game. However, there was nothing specific in the League’s rulebook about rocking shades on the ice. So out came Alzner for the 1 p.m. start, with three quarters of the rink covered in sunlight.
The glare was gone by the start of the second period, as were Alzner’s glasses.
“Did the trick for the first 20 minutes. After that, didn’t need them,” he said.
He said other solutions to the glare issues weren’t effective, including a tinted visor. “The problem with that is that you still get it up underneath [from the ice],” he said. “The only way to get around them is the sunglasses.”
Alzner becomes the first NHL player to wear sunglasses during a game, indoors or outdoors. It’s the kind of quirky landmark moment that ends up with an item being sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame for posterity.
“I should probably hold onto them in case someone tries to take them,” he said.
That wouldn’t be cool.