As 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs exhibition season begins, I find myself outside the bubble. Literally.
The above photo is the outside of Rogers Place in Edmonton on opening night of the playoff training camp exhibitions schedule.
Here's a couple more photos:
That's the J.W. Mariott Hotel connected to the arena where most of the players and staff are staying. It's not quite big enough to hold all the teams as I understand it, but it will be the only hotel used once a few teams are eliminated from the play-in round and the true Stanley Cup playoffs begin.
The whole area is fenced off with Stanley Cup logos to keep everyone outside of bubble.
Like you, this is the closest I will get to see live Stanley Cup playoff action in 2020.
But that's okay. For most of us, hockey is a television event anyway. I am happy to watch the upcoming playoffs on television no matter what happens.
Of course, the television coverage will be so unique this year. Most notably the building is empty. The Oilers and Flames exhibition game is on my hotel television right now as I type this, and, a bit to my surprise, I've quickly adjusted to the quiet building. I love hearing the skates and sticks and bumps and grinds. And the broadcast voices are in mid-season form. And the NHL has done a great job to make things seem as normal as possible with music and goal horns etc.
Bottom line is it is great to see hockey back. I still do not know that they will be able to finish the 2020 Stanley Cup, but their plan seems as solid as one can expect under these unusual circumstances. Good job NHL.
I am happy to see hockey back, and I am happy to be back writing about it. I have been guilty of not writing enough about hockey for a long time now. In some ways am guilty of giving up on it, giving up on my own hockey dreams. I've had setbacks and other priorities arise, but I never should have given up.
Like a struggling player, I have to just keep working at it. Get the puck on the net. Freeze the play for a faceoff in the offensive zone. Skate as hard back to the bench as you do once you get on the ice. For me that means just write. Write and see where it takes me.