WASHINGTON, DC – His teammates squinted their eyes trying to follow the puck at Winter Classic practice at Nationals Park, smearing eye-black on like children dressed up as baseball players on Halloween.
Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner? He rocked a pair of Oakleys, and the glare from the ice was a non-issue.
“No complaints. They were awesome. Did the trick,” said Alzner, after the New Year's Eve skate.
The Capitals were given sunglasses by their training staff. Alzner, who planned on wearing his own sunglasses on the ice at Nationals Park, switched to the team-provided Oakleys.
“It was a sharp look. I think it actually helped. Looking at him, he appeared to be in cruise control,” teammate Joel Ward said, laughing. “I don’t know if he’d be allowed to wear that tomorrow. Can he?”
The answer from NHL hockey operations: Yes, he can.
So can any player in the Winter Classic. There’s no rule that says the players can’t wear glasses during a game, either in an arena or a baseball stadium.
“As long as it’s in the rules, I’m going to try it tomorrow if it’s sunny,” said Alzner.
(Keep in mind the start time of the Jan. 1 game might be shifted to avoid the sun glare.)
Now, there are obviously a few safety concerns. Maybe a puck or a stick whacking the glasses. Or an awkward hit to the head. Or if, for some reason, there’s a rare fight in the Winter Classic.
Alzner said he isn’t concerned about anything fluky happening to his shades. “They’re in there pretty tight. The only worry would be if they come lose a little bit and then mess up my vision,” he said.
So Patrick Kane, grab your aviators. Joel Ward, grab your Brett Hart wrap-around shades. Alex Ovechkin, wear those giant yellow novelty sunglasses.
If the sun is beaming down on the ice, you have the green light to make the Winter Classic look cool.