The construction has started. The uniforms are ready. The HBO cameras are rolling.
One month from today, the puck will drop for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
The NHL's yearly winter extravaganza is a month away, and the excitement already is building.
The first stages of the rink build started Nov. 26
at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, when approximately 61,000 square feet of armor decking was laid down to protect the field and outline where the Philadelphia Flyers
and New York Rangers
Watch the Rink Build
That same day, the Flyers unveiled the uniforms
they'll wear for the big event. The jerseys look a bit different than what they usually wear, with the orange jerseys complemented by black shoulders and black and off-white striping.
Watch the Flyers unveil their uniforms
"This is definitely different," said Flyers Chairman and founding owner Ed Snider, who said he had a hand in the design of the jersey. "And definitely special. It's a special occasion."
A week later, the Rangers unveiled their own special jersey
for the big day. The cream-colored jerseys feature a specially-designed Rangers crest that is longer and rounded at the bottom, and features red and blue stripes.
Watch the rangers unveil their uniforms
Learning curve for Caps players
Corey Masisak - NHL.com Senior Writer
The focus for the Capitals, regardless of the opponent, remains squarely on themselves this week -- trying to learn the system of their new coach and adapt to his philosophy. READ MORE ›
"I'm excited to see it on the ice with full equipment," Rangers goalie and respected fashion icon Henrik Lundqvist
said following the unveiling, held at Wollman Rink in Central Park. "I think it's going to look really good out there. They did a good job designing it."
Days later, the rosters for the Winter Classic Alumni Game
, always an interesting affair, were revealed, led by a half-dozen Hockey Hall of Famers.
The Philadelphia lineup will feature Eric Lindros
, who will pull on an orange-and-black jersey for the first time since his painful divorce from the franchise in 2001 -- which, ironically, ended with a trade to the Rangers.
In an interview with ESPN Radio Philadelphia, Lindros said he was "disappointed" in how his Flyers career ended, but said, "That's in the past. … There's going to be disagreements in life, and that's what the case was. But like I said, that's in the past. I'm really looking forward to seeing people I haven't seen in a while.
"I have not set foot in Philly in a long time. This is a big deal for me."
Also suiting up for Philadelphia will be a reunion of the Flyers' famed LCB Line of Hall of Famers Bob Clarke and Bill Barber
along with Reggie Leach, which helped the Flyers win the 1975 Stanley Cup; recently retired Mark Recchi
; and NBC analyst and NHL.com blogger Jeremy Roenick
, who said he's already talked to Recchi and Rick Tocchet
about forming a line for the alumni game.
A number of well-known alums will skate for the Rangers, among them Hall of Famers Mike Gartner
, Glenn Anderson
and Brian Leetch
Two other star members of the Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup team, Mark Messier
and Mike Richter
, are waiting on medical permission to play. We'll consider them day-to-day at this point.
The Flyers-Rangers rivalry long has been a nasty one, and that memory remains alive even after some of the players have put away their skates.
"I was hoping Dave Schultz was playing
, because I was going to go after him," said ex-Ranger Darren Turcotte
. "Just drop the gloves with Dave Schultz and you'll be on the highlight reels forever."
That won't happen, however, as Schultz will be serving as an off-ice ambassador. And considering Turcotte had just 301 penalty minutes in 12 seasons -- or what Schultz would get in a feisty week -- it's probably a good thing.
Instead of watching old-timers drop the gloves, HBO's award-winning cameras will be following the current players and coaches for the critically-acclaimed "24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic."
For an appetizer, HBO released a 12-minute preview
that sets the tone for what promises to be a unique, all-access look at both teams.
"I think it's good not only for not only the non-hockey fans," said Rangers coach John Tortorella, "but really for the die-hard hockey fans to see something behind the scenes."
"You really get to know the players, that's the biggest thing," added Flyers forward Scott Hartnell
. "That's what fans love about it."
Fans can see the preview now on NHL.com, with the first episode of the four-part series set to premiere Wednesday, Dec. 14.
Part of that series will encompass a Dec. 23 game between the teams at Madison Square Garden. That will be their second regular-season meeting, and if it's anything like their first game -- a fight four seconds into the game, and another midway through the period -- the fireworks should start early.
"There's a little bit of bad blood," said NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins, "but there's a lot of fun involved in that rivalry. That's what sports is about -- great rivalries between two great cities."
The latest -- and possibly greatest -- installment of that rivalry is just a month away.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK