Sunday's outdoor Heritage Classic in Calgary should be a rather chilly affair between the Flames and the Canadiens, but at least most of the Canadian players will be well-prepared for the cold after years of playing shinny growing up. Or...at least that's what they would want to have you believe.
But American Scott Gomez had some fun at the expense of his teammates from north of the border, who had a much harder time with the cold than he thought they would when they took to the outdoor ice on Saturday for a practice session at McMahon Stadium.
"I'm kind of proud of myself. I always said I wouldn't wear all the clothing and the hood and all that and I stuck with it. I look at some of my Canadian friends out there and they were the ones that were wrapped up the most. Ryan White should be embarrassed about himself. He's from Brandon (Manitoba)...when we got on the ice, I couldn't believe how much stuff those guys had on," joked Gomez. "Travis Moen, all his farmer stories, I don't even know what to believe anymore, because that guy was wrapped up more than anyone. So yeah, you bet I'm a lot tougher than anyone."
Veteran forward Jarome Iginla said he wasn't able to take the cold as well at age 33 as he was in his youth.
"I didn't think I'd need it, but I had to throw a tuque on late and it affected my helmet fit. It didn't really fit afterwards. I thought I'd be warm enough and be ready to go, but I'm a little softer than I was when I was younger," said Iginla with a smile. "When I was younger, that would be fine. -15 was a nice day as far as outdoor rink conditions, so I was a little softer and needed to throw some stuff on late."
Mike Cammalleri described some of the unique equipment challenges presented by playing in an outdoor game, things that aren't normally an issue when playing in NHL arenas.
"Your face gets really cold, especially when you're skating in the wind and stuff," said Cammalleri. "I had one of those football ski masks on, and when you have that on, if you're wearing a visor, the perspiration kind of goes up into your visor and it freezes on the inside of your visor, so now you have a layer of ice on the inside of your visor that you obviously can't see through, so I had to play with that a little bit."
Defenceman P.K. Subban said he was extremely happy to be participating in such a special event.
"I thought it was fine...It's kind of about just going out there and just playing the game that you love. The sun was pretty bright, but other than that, I thought everything was great," Subban said.
Brendan Morris said this was the type of thing that was a career highlight for any player.
"When you're done playing, these are the type of things that you look back on and remember, really. This is a game that's going to stick out," he said. "It's not a playoff game, but it's a huge game in the sense of the magnitude of it, with the exposure and that. Just being a part of it is going to be a lot of fun."
Subban said he wanted to soak in the atmosphere.
"This is what you enjoy. You don't even want to bundle up too much. You want to feel the cold to get the full grasp of it," said Subban. "You don't know when you're going to have this opportunity again to play outdoors. It's been quite a long time since I've had an opportunity to play hockey outside and I just want to enjoy this experience as much as I can."
The first Heritage Classic was held in November of 2003 in Edmonton, where the Canadiens beat the Oilers 4-3 in front of over 57,000 people.