The NHL revealed their bubble life plans for the St. Louis Blues and the rest of their opponents. The guys in these areas will be just fine.
The St. Louis Blues, and all 23 other playoff teams, have been wondering what life in the quarantine bubble will be like. They won’t fully know until July 26, when teams start to arrive, but based on the plans released by the league, we don’t need to worry about them suffering in squalor.
The truth is, the players in the bubble are going to have life much better than most of us outside it. They will be away from their families for an undetermined amount of time, depending on how long you stay alive in the playoffs, but they are not going to be hurting for options away from the rink.
In Edmonton alone, where the Blues will be playing, the NHL will make 14 restaurants, bars, pubs and food trucks available. I’m not quite sure what the difference between a bar and pub is in this scenario. Maybe bars are more just for drinking and dancing? Anyway, we don’t need to be shedding any tears about players not being able to go out and eat or drink. They now have the option. Many restaurants for regular people are still only offering curbside, so the players get to live it up by actually going inside.
Players will also have movie theaters as an option. This one stings for me because I’m a big movie fan and cannot currently go because the theaters around me have not opened. I would imagine these will all be second-run movies they are watching as Hollywood continues to delay opening dates for new movies, but it will still be nice to go to a theater for the players that choose to do so. You can’t beat theater popcorn.
Chris Pinkert’s article on the bubble options said there would likely be a lot of guys playing video games, which I discussed earlier. It still seems like these hotels will have to find a way to expand their bandwith or bring in extra internet hookups if you’re going to have that many players and that many teams all trying to get online for gaming though.
The Blues, as well as the other teams, will have basketball courts and an open area for soccer made available. They will also be able to play on several golf courses after an initial quarantine period, which was not defined.
I’ll keep my comments about that to myself. Needless to say, the players will not be hurting for things to do. We can whine about our own local government’s reaction to things, but the NHL is doing right by their players.
They are also doing right by trying their best to make a “home” game an actual home game. For example, for the Blues games listed as the home team, they will have their actual goal horn, the goal song by the Urge and they will play John Denver’s Country Roads. I can already hear the complaining about that last item.
Really, the only downfall to this is that means we’ll be forced to gag on Chelsea Dagger if we happen to watch any Chicago Blackhawks games. Hopefully they get eliminated early or there’s no doubt that thing will echo in an empty arena.
The arena will feature a goal counter for the Blues home games, just like the Towel Man does. There were hints about a possible video board appearance for Towel Man, but we will have to wait and see if that happens or not.
The NHL will be using crowd noise. This one give me pause. Not because I am against the idea, since NBCSports has used it perfectly in their Premier League broadcasts. It gives me pause because they specifically state they will be using EA Sports NHL 20 crowd noise.
I openly admit, I have not played since NHL 17 so the crowd effects might have vastly improved. Using video game sounds instead of actual crowd noise just seems like it will be too artificial. Again, hopefully I am proven wrong.
Television games will have 32 camera angles, which is 12 more than normal. Hopefully the director knows what they are doing because having that many more options can be like a kid with a new toy. They don’t really know what to do with it, but use the heck out of it.
As mentioned in previous articles, the Blues will have their normal TV crew for the round robin games. They will call the games from St. Louis, which I don’t fully understand. I get the premise of limiting visitors to the bubble, but Premier League games have their announcers in the stadium without much problem.
Nevertheless, despite any bitterness seeming to seep out, I am grateful to have hockey returning. Now, just start the games already.