Alllllllright peeps. Let’s talk hockey. I’m Canadian and hockey is in my blood. I could talk about it for hours.
Is anybody else dying to see well-padded athletes gliding across an icy playing field while wielding their funnily shaped sticks? ME TOO! We’re in luck too, because teams have already started prepping to get back together and kick each other’s butts – er, I mean, they’ve started practicing again.
As of July 10, the league entered into “Phase 3,” which means teams are in training camp mode. Players are being tested for COVID 19 every 48 hours right now and the frequency will increase soon. They are, however, allowed to come and go as they please; there’s no enforced bubble right now. This means that being allowed into the “bubble” that will be created for the playoffs is going to be tricky. All the players are being encouraged to be careful and keep their social circles small and tight, but let’s face it, famous, well-paid athletes aren’t exactly known for making the smartest decisions, are they?
Although Canada has a good hold on its COVID cases (well, relatively so), the USA is still experiencing incredibly high rates of new cases every day. And since 18 of the 24 teams preparing to re-enter competitive play are located in the US, this is an issue.
So. There will be two bubbles, one in Edmonton, Alberta (for eastern conference teams), and one in Toronto, Ontario (for the western conference). CBC reports that the NHL’s plan for protecting players – and the public – during the playoffs is “robust and detailed.” Everyone entering the league’s bubble will undergo daily COVID testing, high-fiving is banned, masks are to be worn whenever possible, etc.
The Tampa Bay News reported on what the NHL bubble facilities and rules will look like. Each team will have their own floor. Fitness centers will be closely monitored, and everyone will have to adhere to a strict schedule. As long as the hotel pools and bars are open, NHL players will be allowed to go and enjoy them, provided they still adhere to social distancing rules. They’ll be able to enjoy the hotel restaurants if they like and each team will have a conference room with catered meals specifically for them. There will be a few restaurants outside the bubble from which individuals can order contact-less takeout. Outings like golf or outdoor movies have also been brought up, and there’s no doubt that video game tournaments will be rampant!
August 1st is the beginning of the qualifying rounds and the round-robin will begin on the 2nd. The event that we’ve all been waiting SOOO LOOOONG for, the Stanley Cup finals, will begin on September 22.
I’ve waited about 18 weeks for hockey. I guess I can wait for a few more.
If you watch this hilarious Lays commercial, you might begin to understand how excited I am. Lays is going to make a LOT of money from me.
For more thoughts and opinions from Melanie, check out her author page.
Image Source: AP Images