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They Lived Inside The Bubble

from Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski of ESPN,

ESPN debriefed with nine players -- five from the Western Conference and four from the Eastern Conference -- who, on the condition of anonymity, answered dozens of questions about what life was really like inside the bubble, from playing in empty buildings to being trapped in hotels to food, drinking and drugs....

One Eastern Conference player said the testing made him feel "at ease," which was reinforced by "mask police everywhere" inside the bubble.

Another Eastern Conference veteran said mask culture, which was prevalent, was about "internal respect" as well as "optics."

"When you're at the rink, they're taking pictures of you walking in and walking around. If you're walking around with no mask on, that's not sending the right vibe," the player said. "Yeah, it was annoying. But we're still representing kids that are watching it. All a kid has to say is, 'Hey, Auston Matthews isn't wearing a mask to the rink, so I don't have to.'"...

"The fence that boxed us in, that made you feel like you were in more of a prison, kind of like an animal," he said. "Just the feeling of it. There's no other way to separate you from the outside world in a safe way, but it was an eye-opener when guys pulled up to the hotel."...

Many players thought the NHL exaggerated about the comforts of life in the bubble -- "Frankly, to get us all to agree to come out," an Eastern Conference player said. As one Western Conference player put it: "I would quote it as 'not as advertised.'"

"Once you got into the pattern of playing every other day, the amenities were less important," another Western Conference player said. "But they oversold what was delivered."

much more

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink


SYF's avatar

This cannot happen over an abbreviated season, whether they get to play 82 games or not. I really worry for these guys’ emotional and mental capacities to continue to play in these (like one player said) “prison-like” conditions.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 09/22/20 at 11:04 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Really interesting read.  There’s no way they continue doing bubble hockey next year. 

I think the NHL did a great job putting this together so quickly - it’s a logistical nightmare.  But they certainly had some room for improvement.

Posted by TreKronor on 09/22/20 at 11:44 AM ET

The Meal's avatar

Agreed no bubble hockey this upcoming year.  And in an effort to “move away” from being up against the other big team sports, I’m expecting an abbreviated season (closer to 50 games than 80) in the attempt at getting the Finals wrapped up in June ahead of the Olympics.

Posted by The Meal from Firestone, CO on 09/22/20 at 01:10 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

I’m expecting an abbreviated season (closer to 50 games than 80) in the attempt at getting the Finals wrapped up in June ahead of the Olympics.

I believe last week lil Gary said they would have a full season next year, but I agree with you - I would expect an abbreviated one next season for a number of reasons.  One of the benefits of doing another abbreviated season would be to hopefully start the season in December so they can finish and award the 2021 Stanley Cup in July, 2021.  Then they could possibly start the 21 season in October and play a full 82 game regular season in an effort to “get back on track”. 

But that’s assuming a lot of things.  I also don’t know how the TV deals are structured but if fan attendance is not allowed (or extremely limited) I would imagine there is less benefit to playing a full season.  But, I’m guessing the TV deal is beneficial over the course of a full season.  I just don’t know how a team like Ottawa or the Panthers or Coyotes are going to get through this if they aren’t able to have fans. 

And that’s not even mentioning the AHL.

Posted by TreKronor on 09/22/20 at 02:09 PM ET


This article really shows among other things how crucial sunlight and
fresh air and movement (beyond an enclosed rink) are for anyone’s
mood and (over the long term) mental health.

Even for athletes at peak health. One can be as stoic as
imaginable. And these basic things count for a lot.

Posted by lefty.30 on 09/22/20 at 03:18 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Yep lefty… Bowness said something like this today… He hasn’t walked on grass in 8 weeks but there is no other place he’d like to be at this point.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 09/22/20 at 03:21 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Also lefty, recent notifications for comment notification are getting kicked back, with a permanent fatal error and it says the domain is bad too.

Just giving you a heads up.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 09/22/20 at 03:25 PM ET

Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit's avatar

After reading the article I have to say how spoiled and selfish these players sound. Do they even realize how lucky they are to be “working” in this bubble? Not one player has been ill yet.

Oh how hard it must be. Imagine staying in a hotel, not seeing your family for weeks in order to protect them from infection, while working as a Doctor or Nurse or any other front line worker, while people are dying every where you look. Including your friends and colleagues. 

Boo fuching hoo…

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 09/22/20 at 06:41 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Had no idea that players were getting popped for hotel charges..??

Also, sounds like some owners were ponying up $$ for additional amenities , while some were not..(shocking!!)

Not sure what the answer is for next season, but I’m hopeful something allows the season to be played.

Without hockey to watch, my day to day monotony this winter will become unbearable…


Posted by Down River Dan on 09/22/20 at 08:36 PM ET

d ca's avatar

...hey if any star player who is becoming an UFA isn’t happy. I am sure the Wings would gladly send a town car with a guy and a briefcase waiting by the back staircase door. Maybe Keith Gave could enter the bubble with a message beforehand too. Nick Polano and Jim Lites ready to act. Mike Ilitch’s plush Gulfstream G2 (does Chris have a newer one?) fueled up and ready to leave Western Canada.

Of course they over-sold it. When you are trapped in a hotel room for four weeks even the nicest ones built for long-term occupancy (not the ones they’re being sequestered at) start to feel like prison cells not luxury suites.

But this is the price you paid to have a flat cap and not a regressive one.

The NHL should have been really smart and brought back HBO 24x7 on this experience call it road to the cup or something….and focus on different teams every couple days….

...but this was about TV money and not loosing it. The players were the commodity that needed to be protected not entertained. Why did they think anything differently?

Posted by d ca on 09/23/20 at 12:20 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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