NHL players prepare for awkward moments with bubble rivals

Tukka Rusk expects no problems living under the same roof as his rivals.

He’s not so sure about everyone else.

“I don’t have too many enemies in the league because you’re a goalie and you’re just out on an island,” said veteran Boston Bruins netminder, who shared a locker room with star winger and famous poker Brad Marchand. . “But for some of my teammates, it may be different.

“If you’re playing a seven-game play-off series and the teams are getting a little hot … maybe you’re not playing ping pong together at the hotel.”

With 24 clubs fighting to resume the NHL epidemic, which was suspended in mid-March, Toronto and Edmonton will travel to the hub cities – where players and coaches will be trapped in a bubble away from the public on Sunday – hoping to keep COVID-19 in the Gulf.

Each market will create two hotel teams, which can be some interesting dynamics in restaurants, lounges and other common areas. There is a long list of rules regarding physical distance and each 52-person traveling team will have its own place for both preparation and relaxation but there is a good chance of some awkward moments trying to hold hundreds of NHL Stanley Cups.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, for example, are two of the 10 franchises that will both be in the same complex and will be able to play in the top five qualifiers for a place in the playoffs of the typical 16 teams.

“It’s definitely going to be something new,” said Leafs defender Jack Muzin. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll find out when we’re there.”

From the Stanley Cup qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, SportsNet is now the livestream of every game in the 2020 Stanley Cup play-offs.

Ryan O’Reilly of St. Louis Blues Center, whose team will begin defending its title at the Western Conference round-robin tournament to determine the top-4 seed on that side of the Edmonton bracket, said it would be a surprise if any of you ran into a game at the hotel the next morning.

“Once you get on the ice it’s a fight,” “I don’t think it’ll be very friendly around the bubbles.”

Washington Capitals defender John Carlson and his teammates will be housed in the same Toronto hotel as the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Bruins, but no real excitement can be imagined.

“It wouldn’t be normal to see a lot of opponents in your playoffs, but we’re all professionals,” he said. “We’re all grateful to be in that bubble and to play hockey right now. There will be a lot of adjustments across the board and this is definitely going to be something we haven’t seen before. “

Flame center Mikel Backlund was compared to his World Cup experience at the same championship, staying at the same hotel as Calgary’s qualifier – the Winnipeg Jets.

“It’s going to be tougher now because we’re going to play against a team,” Backlund said. “You probably wouldn’t be too happy to see them in the hallway and see your fight or something happen.”

Capital head coach Todd Rearden said the idea of ​​being anywhere near the opponent off the ice was severely damaged during his game.

“You were always careful not to stay in the same hotel as the other team,” he said. “But it takes it. We are all happy to play hockey and provide entertainment in this kind of situation – try to be a bit normal in our world.

“Some may be head down, sometimes looking at some of the opponents, but I don’t expect it too much.”

The subject has changed over time in hockey. The strong dislike among the players of the generation goes away in most cases. Much more socialization is away from the rink, both during and after the season.

“If you had this (hub) scene with me 20 years ago, I can say that there is a better chance of a fist fight in the lobby,” Winnipeg head coach Paul Morris said jokingly.

Claude Julien, the equivalent of the Montreal Canadiens, although at some point during the game’s recovery something that wouldn’t come as a surprise, started in early August and could continue into the first week of October.

“In the former days, there was a lot of animosity,” says Julian, who played 12 Pro seasons. “You may see that there is going to be some animosity as we move forward in these series. Who knows what’s going to happen in the hotels? This is something we will go along with the experience we will not dare to look at the other team. There was a dirty look if we did.

“Hopefully when it arrives at the hotel we won’t need a referee or bodyguard to spread some fights.”

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