December 10, 2019

DSP REVIEWS: Episode 4 of Epix Road to Winter Classic: Capitals vs. Blackhawks

Journey with us, back to Tuesday night, when Epix debuted its fourth — and final — episode of Road to the Winter Classic. It was just like HBO’s 24/7, only even more melodramatic and over-scripted. Anyway, District Sports Page’s Capitals crew watched, took notes, and provides these reviews, which probably coincide greatly with what you already thought about it.

ERIC: Favorite quote: “In hockey, the reality is that every day doesn’t start out the way you wish it could. But there is one that does.” –Narrator Bill Camp at the top of the show.

Biggest laugh: A Capital saying “Ovi’s hair is getting grayer, let’s go” while they were on golf carts, getting ready to head to the entrance.

Biggest surprise: Call it a pleasant surprise, but I loved how much emphasis they had on the game itself, and the buildup to it.

Least favorite part: I disliked the montage of the Caps and Blackhawks playing at the same time. It seemed a little forced, but I’m glad it didn’t take away from too much coverage of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

J.J.: Most memorable quote: “It’s just a regular game day.” “But is it though?” Tom Wilson and Michael Latta on their way to the stadium. I loved the sentiment of how the players were trying to approach this game like it  was just any other game, but underneath it all, they knew it was something special.

Biggest surprise: I’m not sure why, but the Chicago players seemed to enjoy talking about Michael Latta. Maybe teams just recognize another team’s fighter and zero in on him, but it seems odd to trash talk a fourth line player. If you want to get under a player’s skin, why not go for someone more likely to do damage against your team? Latta seemed like an odd target.

Biggest laugh: As both teams shook hands after the game, Barry Trotz and Joel Quenneville argued over which one cursed more in the series. Not surprisingly both coaches claimed the other had the fouler mouth. Of course, neither one of them compared to Bruce Boudreau, but I digress.

Least favorite part: One of the big storylines that came out after the game was Troy Brouwer’s father being at the game to witness his son scoring the winning goal. The show introduced us to Brouwer’s parents early in the episode and talked about how it was hard for his father to travel after he suffered a stroke a few years ago. I thought the show was setting itself up for a grand finale with Brouwer’s parents, maybe an interview of what that moment meant for them or seeing their reaction after the game, but that didn’t happen. Brouwer’s parents were never mentioned again. So…no one working with the show thought to talk to Brouwer’s family after the game? What was the point of showing them come into town? It seems like such a throwaway scene that it felt like it had to be setting something up. This was a real missed opportunity.

Even with that, however, this episode finally captured what it was I was looking for the entire time, a real behind the scenes perspective. This episode showed how the players talk and interact with one another prior to the game, on the ice and on the bench. They swore at the referees, they swore at their opponents, coaches swore at….well, everyone. I wanted to see pregame speeches, I wanted to see prep, I wanted to see the part of hockey we never see and this episode finally had it because it was not bogged down by endless game recaps.

4 puck of out 4

Overall, this series lacked the flair and gravitas that 24/7 seemed to carry. The HBO series gave a fascinating look behind the curtain of hockey while building its audience up into a frenzy of excitement for the eventual Winter Classic. This show simply didn’t carry the same excitement and much of that was due to the game recaps.

The show did a great job of showing life away from the ice, but it focused far too much on telling us what we already knew. We can get game recaps anywhere.

2.5 pucks out of 4

Winter Classic: The fan experience

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The Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks line up for introductions before the Winter Classic, Jan. 1, 2015. (photo courtesy Erika Schnure)

I moved back to Sweet Home Chicago from Washington, DC in 2011, but that hasn’t stopped me from keeping up with the Washington Capitals. I’m that weird person who shows up to Chicago Blackhawks viewing parties in a John Carlson t-shirt and drives a car with a custom Capitals-dedicated Illinois license plate. Thankfully, all my Blackhawks fan friends understand, and I’ve even convinced some of them to change any negative opinions of the Capitals and their players. They, however, have been unsuccessful in convincing me to like the song “Chelsea Dagger.”

Even when it was only a rumor that Washington, DC would be hosting the 2015 Winter Classic, I knew I had to go. When that rumor was confirmed by Capitals owner Ted Leonsis during the 2013 Capitals Convention, I made a mental note to save up for the trip.

On New Year’s Day, my boyfriend (a Blackhawks fan) and I ascended the escalator out of the Navy Yard Metro station and encountered a huge mass of people. Initially, we were hoping to get into the “fan experience” area in the Bullpen, but the line to get in stretched around the block, and security was being stingy with allowing people to enter. Instead, we met up with some friends at a local bar, and around 11:30am, we headed toward the entrance of Nationals Park.

The line to get into the park was long, but moved surprisingly quickly. After a quick bag check and wanding, we were in the ballpark gates in around 10 minutes. Despite the crush of people outside, the park was very maneuverable and never once felt claustrophobic. When we dropped by a concession stand to get some lunch, we were shocked by the incredibly short lines.

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A display outside section 102 of Nationals Park during the 2015 Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks. (photo courtesy Erika Schnure)

In Section 102, we found our seats and discovered we were seated next to two Blackhawks fans who had traveled from the Quad Cities in Illinois to be there. Everyone in the section was incredibly friendly and just happy to be attending such an event. My section was not the only one without conflict: Capitals fan Abram Fox, sitting in Section 133, “found the entire atmosphere to be positive.”

The execution of the event was nearly flawless. I never stood in line for concessions or a beer vendor, and amazingly, I never encountered a line at the restroom. Even when I stopped at the merchandise store during the second intermission (mostly to avoid hearing Lee Greenwood), the store was crowded but orderly, and cashier lines were swift and efficient.

The only snag I ran into had to do with the ushers. As I was returning to my seat after grabbing a beer, I was about to head down the aisle, as there was a stoppage in play, when the usher stopped me and said I had to wait for the whistle. As I mentioned, play was already stopped. I looked at the usher, a little confused, and said, “But they’re not playing right now.” He was insistent, and so was I. Finally, he caved and let me go before the next faceoff. Others reported similar experiences with ushers. I don’t really blame the ushers — they’d probably never ushered a hockey game before in their lives.

Despite the usher situation, the entire Winter Classic experience was incredible. Nationals Park looked beautiful, everyone was in very high spirits, and thankfully, we were treated to a very exciting game. My Blackhawks fan companion wasn’t happy with the score, but it didn’t put a damper on the day for him. He called it an “unforgettable” day.

Capitals celebrate the 4-3 win

The Washington Capitals celebrate a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2015 (photo courtesy Erika Schnure)

Winter Classic: Leonsis calls 2015 game “the best Winter Classic”

For the host team, sometimes a Winter Classic win feels like more than two points, but you can hardly fault them. The hockey world was watching, and the Capitals delivered. Troy Brouwer scored the game-winner for the Washington Capitals against his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, with seconds remaining in regulation. The Capitals won 3-2, and it was as thrilling a finish as you’d expect from an event like the Winter Classic. It was made for the big time.

After Washington’s victory, Washington Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis cautioned, as if to remind himself, “I don’t want to make this more than it is.”

The Winter Classic has been the NHL’s marquee event since 2008, and Leonsis had been gunning for one of his own ever since his Capitals visited the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011.

In the end, the game is still worth two points, but Leonsis hopes it is a signal of future successes for the franchise he’s devoted so much to over the years.

“I mean, I’m hoping that we can continue to be a franchise that can accomplish bigger things that winning the Winter Classic.”

For Leonsis, it wasn’t only about the spectacle, it was about the experience. His deep investment in the event and its execution added an emotional factor to the day.

“I knew that our fans would fill the stands, be a sea of red,” said Leonsis. “I knew that the NHL really has their execution of this event down. And we were good hosts. We spent a lot of time – I personally spent a lot of time – walking around the building. I saw all the care over every detail.”

Leading up to the event, some felt that there wasn’t a lot of buzz or excitement surrounding the Chicago – Washington matchup, since both teams have played in multiple outdoor games, and neither are conference rivals. So while the game was worth as much as any other regular season contest, it didn’t possess the spark that typically accompanies matchups between divisional and conference rivals.

Despite doubts, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wouldn’t have allowed Washington as the host of the game if he didn’t believe it would succeed.

“The fact of the matter is, we wouldn’t have brought the Winter Classic here, despite Ted’s persistence, if we didn’t think it was right,” Bettman told reporters after the game. “It’s Ted’s persistence, not just in pursuing this event, but in making the Caps such an important part of the sports scene in Washington.”

“It’s Ted’s pursuit and persistence — in making the Capitals such an important part of the community – that brought us to the point that we believed that by bringing the Winter Classic to Washington we could have a great event and that’s what we had.”

Leonsis felt the league’s faith in his franchise was rewarded. “It does feel good to have the league believe in us, and I think this was the best Winter Classic.”

“If you look at the quality of the game, the speed of the game, the quality of the ice … I think the weather was absolutely perfect. And to win at the buzzer basically, it makes for great theater, great drama.”

Besides his team winning the game, Leonsis cherished a moment he witnessed before the fanfare of the day began.

“I was walking to do an interview this morning, and there was a mother and daughter, and they had their arms around each other, and they just had the biggest smiles on their faces. I just stopped, and I looked at them,” said Leonsis. “One of the ladies blew me a kiss. I mean, those are the kind of moments you want to capture. You want to make lifelong memories.”

 

Winter Classic: Barry Trotz media availability

Here is Barry Trotz’ Winter Classic postgame media availability. [courtesy NHL Media Relations]

BARRY TROTZ:  I’ve got the first question.  Did anybody have any fun?  Yeah, I’m having a lot of fun right now.

Q.  Can you talk about that five-on-three in the second period.  That was pretty tough?

BARRY TROTZ:  To me, that was the tipping point of the game.  We don’t kill that off, the Chicago Blackhawks are leaving here with the two points and we probably have a pretty disappointed locker room. So, the first penalty kill we had, we killed off about three seconds, they scored.  And that was huge.

And a lot of times, your stars in these big games, they step up.  Those were our guys, our — the guys that are sort glue guys sometimes.  The guys that don’t get a lot of credit.  All of those guys were huge on the kill.  Guys like Jay Beagle, Brooks Laich, and Orpik, what can you say about him today?  And Carlson and Niskanen, all those guys. So a really big kill.  If we don’t kill that off, I’m pretty sure were — you’re asking me a different question today.

Q.  Technically not halfway, but for the sake of discussion, halfway through your first season here, is the team where it needs to be, are you happy with the progress?

BARRY TROTZ:  I’m happy in a lot of ways.  The progress, we need to learn a few things.  And one of the things I learned today is that the game started ramping up, and I thought we came out with really a good game plan and good intentions and we executed it and we had a lead and then it sort of unraveled on us and we started to unravel a little bit.

We haven’t been on the big stage as much as maybe the Chicago Blackhawks the last couple years, and that’s an area that we have to improve upon. But the thing that we have been really good at this year is, when we get off what I call the rails a little bit and we lose our focus, we’re able to get back and find ways to win. Today was another case in point.

This team last couple years has been able to score quite a bit, but haven’t been able to win close games.  Haven’t been able to win games when the power play hasn’t been clicking. So, this whole month has been really a test for us, because our power play hasn’t been good this whole month, I would say, and we’re finding ways to win.  You ended up with two of the hottest teams coming into this Winter Classic, which was great.

Q.  Just describe this whole experience.  What this was like for you and what will you take away, what will you remember, other than the win?

BARRY TROTZ:  I will — the whole month I will remember a lot of things, because we have grown a lot.  Obviously, when — not used to having the not the center of the universe, but everybody watching our every move.

I do apologize to all kids that my F-bombs during the whole segments and I think Joel beat me by quite a few, so I think I’m safe. But we tried to give the experience of just being ourselves.  I went into this just saying, you know what, I got to be myself, the players can read through that.  And all that. So good or bad, we were going to go through this and it’s actually helped us learn a lot about ourselves.

Dealing with pressure, dealing with situations, and building up to this game and learning to deal with all the distractions.  We were the home team.  We probably had a lot more distractions because I just talked to Mike, I was sitting down having a quick bite to eat because we haven’t eaten since this morning and he said he’s got like 50 people here.  And Johnny Carlson’s got like 70 people. We were, as I said, we’re creatures of habits and I was really worried how our focus would be and we came out with really pretty good focus.

We’re maturing as a team, but still in the second period we were crying about everything and whining about everything and it just, our focus wasn’t on the right things.  We got off track there.  But third period I thought we got back on track and I thought we played a pretty good third.

Q.  Could the script have been written any better with Troy scoring the game winner against his former team?

BARRY TROTZ:  Not really.  Today the big players were in play.  A guy like Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer, ex-Blackhawk, us killing penalties and then going on a power play late in the game and turning that thing around and getting a big win. So, emotionally, that was a great script for us, because it showed a little bit of what I think the Capitals are becoming as a group.  Us as a team, is that we are — we can win different ways, we can be really resilient and we play to the end.  That’s been sort of our MO.

We have been in a few games that were 3-0, behind the eight ball, and we find ways to get a point.  There’s only one game in the last 12 or 13 that we haven’t got a point in.  And we have been on the road for a month, for the most part.  I think we only had two home games really when this whole thing started.  So, a lot of effort has gone into it and I think our group has grown.  We’re finding out a lot about guys.

Q.  What was the lead up like for Brooks Orpik in terms of him deciding to play?

BARRY TROTZ:  Well it was — well Brooks skated the other day under the radar at Kettler when we were over here.  He felt pretty good.  He was classified as 50/50 and got up to 75 last night. Then this morning, our trainers always want a little leeway, he got up to 85.  And then Brooks, when I talked to him before warm up, I said, how are you feeling?  And he says, unless something happens, I’m pretty sure I’m going to go. And I asked him when he came off, are you good to go?  And he says, yeah.  I says, no hesitation?  And he said none.

Tonight he was fantastic.  He played like 24 minutes.  A lot of kills, which is what he does.  You can only admire what he does and brings to the group.  He just makes everybody better.  He doesn’t say a whole lot in the room, he says everything with how he plays and how he lives and his actions and his commitment to the game.  So, it really is an important piece to what we’re trying to do here in Washington.

Q.  What did you learn about Alex and the way that he does seem to kind of relish this big stage?

BARRY TROTZ:  Alex, the bigger the stage, the bigger Alex is.  Alex is a — he’s a rock star.  When I was in the other conference I didn’t see the Caps a lot, but Alex has this ability, as the great stars do, that you want to keep your eyes on him.  Even if he’s not doing anything good, bad, or indifferent, you want to watch him.  And that’s what’s star power does.  You want to watch those guys out there. You can say, you know, bad game, good game, whatever, you can pick him apart, but you want to watch him. That, to me, is a star.

The bigger the stage, the more Alex stands up to it. There’s a lot of players in this league who want the big stage, but when they’re put in the spotlight, they’re not as big.  I think that the great players of their generation, and Alex is one, is that, when the stage is very big, you know what you’re going to get and you’re going to get a good performance, a great performance.

I know, since I’ve been coaching Alex and we have gone around, a lot of people want to tear him apart, but how many superstars have scored as many goals, how many superstars put people in the seats, how many superstars play as physical as Alex Ovechkin.  There’s not very many.  And that’s what makes him unique.  He’s been a pleasure to coach and very easy to coach, really.

Q.  You mentioned first time on the big stage for a lot of guys in this organization.  Is this something, come playoff time, that they can draw back on to help them through a playoff run on the big stage?

BARRY TROTZ:  Yeah, I think so.  Any player that gets on the big stage and is a part of it, grows as a person, as a player, and we needed more of that.  In the organization.  We have got some young guys who have been there, we have got some older guys who have forgotten a little bit about what it takes and are re-learning that a little bit. To have this stage is, it’s important for what we want to do.

We’re not near where we want to get to.  We played the Chicago Blackhawks, they have won Stanley Cups. To me, that’s still the gold standard.  Until they’re knocked off the pedestal they’re still the gold standard. We aspire, in this organization, to be the best and you’re not the best until you can put a Stanley Cup banner up in the rafters here.

Winter Classic: Commissioner Gary Bettman’s media availability

Posted in it’s entirety, for your amazement and enjoyment. [courtesy NHL Media Relations]

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Happy New Year.  We’re delighted that you were able to join us here today.  What a spectacular afternoon we had here at Nationals Park.

I want to first start by thanking the Nationals organization, especially Mark Lerner, for welcoming us into their home and letting us dress it up and turn it into a hockey venue for the day. I also want to thank the Blackhawks for participating and being so cooperative.  Obviously, the players and from Rocky Wirtz on down, the Caps’ Ted Leonsis, what can you say?

What you saw here today from 43,000 people was a level of enthusiasm for hockey, for the Capitals, that I’m not sure many people imagined could ever have been accomplished here in Washington.  And it’s a testament to Ted Leonsis and his passion for the game, his passion for the Capitals, and his passion for this community.

He insisted, he was persistent, he was relentless in pursuit of this game and it was because he wanted it for Washington DC. The atmosphere couldn’t have been greater.  The weather was spectacular.  I have to congratulate my own special events people for the way they dressed up this park.  I mean, the replica Capitol Building, the reflecting pool, actually somebody showed me a picture of somebody skating on the reflecting pool in 1918 to give you a sense of how far these things go back here.  But it made for a fun day.

A lot of people were probably out late last night, but that didn’t stop tens of thousands of people from being in spectator plaza and tailgating at nine o’clock in the morning. All in all it’s been a fun day.  We had a competitive, entertaining game, and so I just want to again thank everyone, but most importantly the players, for participating and enjoying the experience, and all the great fans who turned out.

Each of these games — I know they get compared one outdoor game to another: they’re all unique, they’re all different, they’re all special in their own way.  And that’s the way we like to try and do it. And I don’t know what people’s expectations were for our event here today, but the Winter Classic here in Washington couldn’t have been better from a fan experience and an entertainment standpoint. And on that note, I’m happy to take questions

Q.  Ted said that he thought that part of the reason they got the Winter Classic was just so that you wanted him to leave you alone.  Can you talk about his efforts over the years and what you were looking for?

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN:  The fact of the matter is, we wouldn’t have brought the Winter Classic here, despite Ted’s persistence, if we didn’t think it was right.  It’s Ted’s persistence, not just in pursuing this event, but in making the Caps such an important part of the sports scene in Washington. It’s Ted’s pursuit and persistence — in making the Capitals such an important part of the community – that brought us to the point that we believed that by bringing the Winter Classic to Washington we could have a great event and that’s what we had.

So, yes, it’s his persistence, but it wasn’t just in harassing me — and it’s not harassing, because Ted’s a great owner and his passion is phenomenal — but the point is, it’s everything he does about the way he conducts this organization, that enabled us to be more than comfortable that we could successfully bring the Winter Classic to Washington.

Q.  You said every game is unique.  What was memorable about this particular Winter Classic?  I know it’s only like a half hour after, but.

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN:  Well, we’ll take a deep breath.  Putting aside for a minute that we had a very competitive, entertaining game, just when you came in here and you saw the way we took a modern venue, and, because it was modern, we could dress it.  And the Capitol Building, the reflecting pool, the military presence, the entertainment between periods, these were all things that created a fun environment for our fans. Again, this is an event that takes the game back to its roots. So many people learn to skate and play hockey outdoors, as young kids, and it conjures up memories of that.

When you look at something that was focused on being in the U.S. nation’s capital and you look at the way Don Renzulli dressed up his events people dressed up the building, it gave it that special feeling. By the way, in addition to thanking Don, and special events people, I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank Dan Craig, the world’s expert in making ice under any circumstances and conditions.  And Colie Campbell who runs hockey operations.

We had some decisions that we had to make before the game, including when to start the game, and it was a fully coordinated effort. And we had the cooperation of the Players’ Association in these endeavors, which is always a good thing as well.

Q.  Can you talk about before the game during warm ups about starting on time versus delaying it?

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN: We decided that we would have the players come out and warm up and see how comfortable they were with the sun conditions.  The ice was fine; that was never an issue.

The report we got back from Corey Crawford, the goaltender who was in the sun for Chicago, that he was comfortable, and the two captains told us that they were comfortable and we decided to switch ends — just to make sure that nobody had any issues about fairness at the 10-minute mark.  It worked out perfectly well.  It was a non-issue.

For us, the primary issue, if there was to be an issue, was player safety.  Once we were comfortable that that wasn’t going to be an issue, everyone decided — I decided it was time to go and play on time.

Winter Classic: Bests and Worsts

The Washington Capitals beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in New Year’s Day’s Winter Classic on Troy Brouwer’s goal with 13 seconds left in the game. Here are the bests and worsts of the day, from someone that wasn’t actually in attendance.

Best fashion statement: Karl Alzner’s sunglasses. I mean, who wears sunglasses to paly hockey in? Well, I have, but not at the NHL level. The sun was bright for the mid-day game and some players wore eye black (apparently provided by Bryce Harper, after he and Eric Fehr traded tweets) but Alzy decided to rock the shades and it worked for him. Related: least obvious player to wear sunglasses during an NHL game? Karl Alzner.

Best goal reaction: Ovi’s was pretty darn good, but gotta give it to Brouwer. He didn’t realize it at first, then dropped his stick and gave the two-armed curl first pumps before getting creamed by Nick Backstrom, then Mike Green and finally Ovi.

Biggest surprise: Mike Milbury and Kevin Jones continually praising Ovi’s play. Of course, it was for “finally buying in” or some such nonsense, but it’s like these guys are just figuring out he’s good or something. Oh, and Kevin Weekes on NHLN called Ovi a horse, and said he was “frothing at the mouth.” Nice imagery.

Worst non-call: Marcus Johansson getting hauled down by Johnny Oduya right in the middle of the ice in front of both refs.

Worst penalty call: The “hooking” on Jonathan Toews that set up the game-winning power play with under two minutes left was one of the weakest call in an overly poorly officiated game.

Honorable mention: The goalie interference on Tom Wilson, especially since Corey Crawford was out of the crease when contact was made.

Best apology: Barry Trotz, in the postgame, apologizing to “the kids” for swearing during the filming on the Epix documentary. I guess he didn’t see the one the first time the Caps were in it. Bruce Boudreau cursed more and more vulgar in one locker room tirade than Trotz did the whole series.

Best entertainment: Army singers with the National Anthem. Could not have been more perfect.

Honorable mention: BILLY IDOL!!! Sure, his upper register is shot (who’s wouldn’t be) and he had to croon his best songs, but c’mon, Billy Idol!!!

Worst entertainment: Lee Greenwood. If I never hear that overly jingoistic piece of clap-trap song again it’ll be too soon. That song is everything that’s wrong with America, down to the fact Lee Greenwood has made an entire career and continues to profit from it.

Best outdoor game goal scorer: Eric Fehr. Because of course.

Best trolling: Nats GM Mike Rizzo wore a vintage Bobby Hull Blackhawks jersey. Chicago tough.

Best finish: Of course, Brouwer’s goal. But Nats Park public address playing Chuck Brown’s Bustin’ Loose as fans exited the park? Great, great touch.

Winter Classic: Caps beat Hawks on late Brouwer goal

Troy Brouwer’s power play goal with 13 seconds left lifted the Washington Capitals over the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in New Year’s Day’s Winter Classic. We’ll have full coverage of the game, but for now, we’ll leave you with these screenshots of the aftermath, all courtesy @cnichols14.

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DSP REVIEWS: Episode 3 of Epix Road to Winter Classic: Capitals vs. Blackhawks

Journey with us, back to Tuesday night, when Epix debuted its third episode of Road to the Winter Classic. It was just like HBO’s 24/7, only even more melodramatic and over-scripted. Anyway, District Sports Page’s Capitals crew watched, took notes, and provides these reviews, which probably coincide greatly with what you already thought about it. [Read more…]

Jason Chimera weighs in on Joel Ward’s Winter Classic advertisements

Last week, Joel Ward took over the internet and the Navy Yard Metro station in D.C. with a series of advertisements for Winter Classic toques sponsored by Reebok.

After Washington’s last home game before the Winter Classic, Ward said none of his teammates had seen the ads yet, thus sparing him from any potential ridicule.

“If we could keep that on the downlow, that’d be great,” he said. [Read more…]

Joel Ward hasn’t seen his own Reebok ads, wants to keep them “on the downlow”

Earlier today, on my way back from Nationals Park, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the giant banners that were smattered around the Navy Yard metro station. The ads, by Reebok, depict Joel Ward engaging in a plethora of manly activities, all while sporting a Reebok Winter Classic toque.

The one that got the most attention showed Ward, shirtless, sitting in a hole in an iced-over lake in the middle of nowhere.

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So many questions.

I had a hunch that he’d already gotten some guff from his teammates about the ads, namely his linemate, Jason Chimera, also know as his “twin”.


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As it turns out, Ward hasn’t even seen the ads, and isn’t in a rush for his teammates to find out, either.

“The best thing about it is no one’s said a word except for you,” said Ward. “If we could keep that on the downlow, that’d be great. I’m sure I’ll hear at some point.”

The Reebok campaign also features Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa in similar poses to Ward.

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So far, the only place these ads have been seen is at the Navy Yard Metro at the Half Street entrance, which is the one you’ll be taking to get to Nationals Park if you’re attending the 2015 Winter Classic.

Check out our friends at RMNB for a full gallery of the toques. Photos by yours truly.

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