How teams kept busy during down time in the bubble
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
The NHL finals have gotten under way. The Dallas Stars are playing Tampa Bay Lightning in the cup final being held in Edmonton.
Dallas booked their ticket to the final by eliminating the Vegas Golden Knights in their west final series, four games to one on September 14. Overall, the hockey playoff season has been exciting, but it is still very strange to watch hockey (especially a championship final) without fans in the stands. But this is the new normal of watching NHL hockey for now. What’s next? Watching a world figure skating championship out in the Sahara Desert?!
Since the NHL playoffs began in the two hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton back in August, teams have been filmed doing activities to keep themselves occupied. When the Canucks were still in the playoffs, backup goaltender Louis Domingue was impressing hockey fans with his culinary skills. Domingue kept himself busy while posting videos of himself baking pies and other tasty entrees for his teammates.
“They put their bodies on the line, so I decided to reward them,” Domingue said in an interview with CTV News Edmonton during the Canucks’ playoff series against Vegas (which Vegas won in seven games). “We won. Then I did the banana bread the next day and we won again.” Domingue stated that food is a significant part of his French heritage. He grew up in a home where food (and especially baked goods) were not a scarcity. “My mom took it from my grandma, and I took it from my mom,” Domingue said. “They are always rolling out doughs for meat pie or just desserts.”
In addition, other teams playing in the Edmonton playoff bubble were the Colorado Avalanche. During their off days, they were seen playing soccer and football out in the sun at Commonwealth Stadium. Even Canuck forward, Elias Pettersson, was seen shooting hoops outside days before the Canucks began their play-in series against the Minnesota Wild. “It’s always been a hobby of mine,” Pettersson said in an interview uploaded by the Vancouver Canucks on YouTube. He rates his jump shot as a five out of ten and says he still needs to work on it. “I like to shoot around a little bit. I can’t dribble that good, but I’m [an] alright shooter,” Pettersson said.
Furthermore, in an NHL docu-series called Quest for the Stanley Cup, Tampa Bay Lightning was shown relaxing before they began their eastern final series against the New York Islanders. Peculiarly, Tampa Bay veteran forward Patrick Maroon was seen trying to fish in a harbour in Toronto. Unfortunately, Maroon accidentally hit a camera operator with his hook. Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper was shown kayaking and quipped, “I did find it odd that they gave us fishing gear for a lagoon that has no fish.”
As these are very uncertain times, it is good that some NHL teams competing in the playoffs were trying to have some fun and relaxing times. It is a wise decision to counter the boredom and repetitive routine of going back and forth from the hotel room to the rink. It is uncertain when the next NHL season will begin—but so far, the NHL revised playoff tournament has been a success. Yet, a Stanley Cup championship being awarded in the month of September with no fans in the stands still feels very odd.