Bill's Bubble - Life in the NHL Bubble - Week 5
Life in the world is changing by the moment, and even though we are in the Bubble we are still a part of it. To honour those minimized by racism and to inspire acceptance and compassion for others the NHL is considering, as I write this update, postponing the Thursday and Friday games this week. 2020 has been a year of incredible changes in many ways.
With the Calgary Flames setting a playoff record as the only team to turn a 3 goal lead into a 4 goal loss, the lone Canadian team left in the playoffs is none other than our young and talented Vancouver Canucks. It was difficult to watch this demise, knowing how hard the Flames’ players worked to get this far…having won their first 2 games against Dallas. My support is 100% behind the Canucks (and even was with the Flames, although that is tough to write) in spite of the fact that the Bruins and Oilers have always been my favorite teams.
While chatting about the NHL in general, long-time referees and linesmen Shane Heyer and Mike Leggo who are working as part of our off-ice crew, remarked how difficult it is for Canadian teams to attract top talent. The decision to live under the hockey-crazed microscope where you are recognized at every turn in the frozen north, or be an unrecognized Joe in the heat of the south can be a very difficult one. Although I must say, right now it appears they all seem to be enjoying their time in the northern frontiers bonding with their teammates.
Once the two Western Conference teams are replaced by two from the East in the next round, rumor has it that the players’ families may be introduced into the Bubble. It will be interesting to see their families, although we don’t know what access they will have to different areas of the Bubble. I am sure the two food trucks and the other restaurants would welcome these new patrons! Maybe seeing the far north has some nice weather besides the cold winters will draw more players north.
According to a recent note I saw, the league has given nearly 25,000 Covid tests since the end of July, with zero positive results to date. That is quite astonishing! Although it may not always be easy being so diligent, creating this safe of an environment has not been replicated by other sports. A positive benefit of Edmonton being a host to the NHL is the number of health-care professionals, security and hospitality staff, and other folks who have had meaningful employment during these times of high unemployment. I applaud the NHL for this!
As there are less games now, there is more of a chance to enjoy a safe break on a new protected ‘island’ outside of the Bubble. The crew I am a part of has been given some free time, and a daily shuttle service is available to Commonwealth Stadium, where we can throw around a baseball, play soccer, kick some field goals (I made one from 25 yards, but nearly pulled all my leg muscles.), play bocce, or simply get some steps in walking the field. One Florida participant brought a couple towels and his pillow and worked on maintaining his tan!
Monday was an extra special day for a crew of us, as we ventured on the 6:30 am shuttle to Blackhawk Golf Course for 18 holes. The $225 was a bit pricy for those from out of town who had the added cost of renting clubs to the course rate, but it was well worth the view of green grass, the smell of fresh air, and the taste of freedom. To crank out a 250 yard drive right down the middle and sink a 20 foot put on real grass instead of the simulator in Ford Hall was a real treat! You don’t realize how much you appreciate the simple pleasures until they become a treat you have to wait for!
The other day it was interesting chatting briefly with Vancouver’s Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson, as they were shooting hoops in the yard. I complimented Brock on making a nice three-pointer, to which he jokingly replied “Watch me kick this skinny kid’s @$$!”. Just a couple of young men having fun, then enjoying a Tim Horton’s ice cap and muffin. Priceless.
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