Considering the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at BC Place in Vancouver is just around the corner, the Ottawa Senators took some time Thursday to acclimate themselves to the outdoor ice. Before their game against the Vancouver Canucks on March 2, the Senators practiced outdoors at Jules Morin Park before an excited crowd of locals.
The outdoor skate may have been a great way to prepare for their upcoming game against the Canucks, but it was also a fun way to get back into the rhythm of the NHL season as the League-wide break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics comes to a close.
"It's fun for us, we got good weather today which makes it nicer," captain Jason Spezza told the Senators' website. "It kind of brings you back to your roots a little bit and we played a lot as kids on the outdoor rinks. Not this nice of a rink, but on the outdoor rink."
The 2014 Heritage Classic will be the franchise's first appearance in a regular season outdoor game, so the opportunity to grow more accustomed to the outdoor environment was important. More than anything, the players' skate in the park was a unique chance to recapture the spirit of their early days growing up in the game.
"It's exciting because it's something we haven't done in years. I haven't skated on an outdoor rink since I was a kid, and it's one of those things where you forget how much fun it is to be outside and just kind of be out in the sun," goaltender Craig Anderson said. "It's kind of a nuisance for the sun to be in your eyes trying to stop pucks, but at the same time I think everyone out here was smiling the whole time so it's definitely worth coming out and enjoying the time."
The Senators hope they'll be more accustomed to battling the glare of the sun by the time they take to the ice in Vancouver on March 2.