So it was no surprise to see Bondra, 46, smiling ear to ear Tuesday, when he was able to skate on the fresh sheet of ice with a small gathering of former teammates and media members at Nationals Park, two days before the Capitals host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
"I think it's a big event, especially for Washington," Bondra said. "D.C. has become a hockey town and they've got a great team. I mean, they've got Alex Ovechkin, so it's going to bring attention. Nationals Park, we're just a couple of blocks from the White House. This is going to be a really great festivity.
"You go to Verizon [Center] for a regular-season game, and it gets a lot of attention. People are excited about the upcoming Winter Classic. You see a lot of dark red colors in the building and Winter Classic colors. This means a lot. I'm very excited. As a hockey fan, you get to come here and watch Washington and Chicago? Wow. Two good teams. This is really becoming a holiday of hockey."