Life in the NHL Bubble

Bill Lineker, CPA | CA | Managing Director

NHL hockey is officially back, with exhibition games July 28 to 30!  Who would have thought this possible a short four months ago.

I am fortunate to be part of the experience, from “inside the bubble”, as I am an NHL Off-Ice Official.  Our crew consists of 7 Edmontonians, 3 from Winnipeg, 2 from Vancouver as well as 3 full time NHL employees who we are training on the fly.  We are at ice level in the penalty boxes, game and penalty timekeepers, and upstairs recording game events (shots, hits, time on ice etc) which the public and media see on the internet.

The 5 out of province associates arrived in Edmonton Friday July 24 and were isolating in their hotel rooms until the afternoon of July 28, just over 100 hours without even entering the hallway.  They received daily Covid 19 testing in their rooms, and have tried most everything on the room service menu (our crew and the camera folks etc are at a hotel about 6 blocks from the Bubble, our own little Island, being shuttled by bus to and from the main bubble….maybe we get to move to the Delta once the initial play-in and seeding games are completed August 9).

Security is tight at the Bubble, with everyone being tested daily and monitored by the health app CLEAR.  There are, however, certain folks who do enter and leave the bubble, such as healthcare, maintenance, security, media and food personnel.  Their movement is restricted, as denoted by their red and yellow ID lanyards.

It is very strange watching and scoring a game without fans.  First off, it’s very cold, as the normal heat from the spectators is absent.  And the rink is so eerily quiet, so much that you can hear the players skating, and informing each other what they thought of the dirty hit or high stick.  The crowd noise and goal celebrations that are heard on your TV are there for the viewing audience, as we hear none of that in the arena.

Numerous additional cameras were installed in Rogers Place, including one swivelling off a huge beam…it reminds me of the mast on a pirate ship.  Great for TV, but that one does impact our sight lines from our work stations way up high which makes it a bit more challenging for stats. Hopefully Oilers sail through in this pirate ship to steal the Stanley Cup in October!

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