NHL teams retreated to their own bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto a couple of months ago when the league playoffs began.
The bubbles have worked great, with a total of 32,374 coronavirus tests performed on players and no infections detected.
Life in the bubble has even remained a mystery to the general public, as only the NHL’s own journalists have been allowed into the Bubble in addition to the players. US ESPN however, interviewed nine players who said anonymously what everyday life in the bubble is like.
Players first questioned the safety of the bubble. However, the doubts quickly evaporated.
– Zero infection, it’s really impressive when you think about all the moving parts. Everything else can be complained about, but the NHL should be proud of this, one of the Eastern Conference veteran players praised.
Cannabis and alcohol
One of the hot topics was alcohol, as some of the puck people suspected the players were rackling with each other.
According to the interviewees, players were able to order alcohol from room service, but alcohol use remained moderate.
– Any team will meet if it has two days off between games. The players have not been close to each other for three months. Are you going to tell the 34-year-old that he can’t drink a few drinks and land by the pool after the game? one of the interviewees states.
Players used cannabis-containing candies or chewing gum instead. Cannabis use is legal in Canada.
– There were cannabis chewing gum and drinks, but the players tried to perform in the best possible way. I don’t think the players drank to celebrate. When players used cannabis candies, it wasn’t meant to be in the cloud and land all day. It was more for recovery or falling asleep after a game. Instead of falling asleep at four or five in the morning, players were able to fall asleep at one night and get seven hours of sleep, a Western conference veteran player says.
There have been cases in the Premier League and NFL where players have smuggled women to the team’s hotel despite bans. In the NHL, this was not the case, according to the players, as no one wanted to ruin the protection provided by the bubble and end the season.
Everything was not as great as in the original plans. Players were promised food trucks, restaurants and shopping opportunities.
Golf and fly fishing were also available in the brochures. Tampa Bay Lightning, for example, once visited the golf course with the whole team, but the pastimes were otherwise unfulfilled.
– The small brochure they sent to the players had a picture of a man fly fishing in the mountains. One of our players wondered “Where did they get this picture of the mountains? The mountains are three hours away? ” one of the Western Conference players wondered.
– It is ridiculous to compare the things they promised and actually implemented, the player of the Eastern Conference sums up.
Players were also badly rubbed by the lack of family. Players were promised that their families would get to Bubble by the conference finals.
However, the NHL later stated that it did not receive an exemption from the government. Getting non-Canadian Canadian families to Bubble would have required 14 days of quarantine, which was virtually impossible for many living with young children.
Compared to prison
Being isolated from family and the outside world was a tough place for some players. One Western Conference player says he noticed after a couple of days that several players were downstairs and sad.
Some of the players got a lot excited about, for example, bus trips to the ice rink. From the bus window it was possible to follow everyday life even for a moment.
– I got terribly excited about the bus trip. How sad is that too? one player ponders.
One player described the bubble as a prison.
– The fence around the bubble made the place feel like we were in prison like animals.
The NHL final series between Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning continues Finnish time on the night between Wednesday and Thursday. Winnings are exactly 1-1.