ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The players and coaches have done their share of personal prep work for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, such as securing enough tickets and making sure their families got on the University of Michigan ice to skate.
However, such prep work pales in comparison to the ongoing efforts put forth by the hardest-working guys associated with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings these days.
The equipment managers and their staffs are in charge of making sure every player is comfortable enough to play at a top level and every coach is warm enough to work the bench the way they normally would in an indoor game.
Preparing their teams for the Winter Classic has been the equivalent of a second full-time job for Red Wings equipment manager Paul Boyer and Maple Leafs equipment manager Brian Papineau.
"For the last six weeks, it seems like your main focus is getting ready for this big event," Papineau told NHL.com as he watched the Maple Leafs practice Tuesday. "As excited as we are to be here and to be a part of it, it will be rewarding when it's over to look back at a lot of good memories."