Bill's Bubble - Life in the NHL Bubble - Week 7
The Bubble has taken on a different ‘feel’ these past few days, not only from the arrival of the Lightning and Islanders, but also related to the influx of other people from the Toronto Hub. We definitely can tell we are getting closer to the finals as top NHL brass such as deputy commissioner Bill Daly, senior VP of hockey operations Kris King, and vice president and director of officiating Steve Walkom, emerge to join the Bubble from their four day mini-quarantines. We are definitely ramping up to the big show!
Not surprisingly, the security seems to have tightened, even for our visiting puppies! One of my co-workers received an email Sunday from the Los Angeles firm coordinating Bubble security, which in no uncertain terms indicated that his dog must be left at home, or kept in the car, on future visits, or his human family would be banned for the balance of the playoffs. I guess everyone has their own opinion about this, but I think a little ‘puppy love’ makes the world, and the Bubble, a better place! Holly has not broken the news to Chloe yet.
The NHL has introduced the Puck and Player Tracking system now that we are in the conference finals. I have not watched a broadcast, so am curious as to how hockey fans receive this. My understanding is that the system works off a grid of infrared beams, and not GPS, with chips installed in players’ shoulder pads and the puck. Each puck has a unique serial number, and is activated either by the faceoff drop or in the penalty box just prior to its use. Maybe the data will allow those so inclined to bet on a player’s time on ice or shot velocity.
It was exciting being part of NHL playoff history Friday, September 4 when two game 7’s were played in the same arena on the same day. The Dallas Stars pulled off what most people thought was a surprising upset, with a thrilling overtime win. Colorado’s lineup was depleted by key injuries but as we say, no excuses. Unfortunately we lost our beloved Vancouver Canucks, as even Thatcher Demko’s 98.5% save percentage was not quite enough. I am guessing Thatcher and the Dallas Stars’ Joel Kiviranta will each see a slight pay increase when their next contracts are negotiated.
Mike Leggo, a 21 year NHL referee, told the off-ice crew an interesting story the other day. He and Steve Walkom were working an American Hockey League game years ago when Steve advised Mike that he planned to make a real difference in NHL officiating someday. At the time Mike thought, ‘You are crazy. We are not even in the NHL yet.’ Steve made good on his goal, and Mike obtained his Masters degree in sport psychology over a four year span near the end of his on-ice officiating career, and is now coordinating the development of many young officials. It goes to show what can be accomplished when you have a dream, a plan, and dedication. Way to go Steve and Mike!
I walked about five kilometers the other day by doing laps around Rogers’ Place concourse level while reading my book, just to get a little exercise. That certainly does not compare to the sunshine and turf under foot when we get an outing to Commonwealth Stadium. We took advantage of that opportunity today and were surprised when the Tampa Bay Lightning players showed up and shared the Stadium with us, playing soccer, throwing around the baseball, fielding fly balls, and kicking field goals. Randy, Andre and I had our own game of catch. Randy unexpectedly reversed the throwing order and nailed me square in the chest as I was watching Patrick Maroon kick the soccer ball. Not a proud baseball moment for me Nigel! We switched to Frisbee and bocce, which are much safer, to ensure we had sufficient officials to finish the playoffs!
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