NHL players start their adjustment to hub life in Edmonton, Toronto

NHL players start their adjustment to hub life in Edmonton, Toronto

NHL players settled into Edmonton and Toronto on Monday for what will be the mother of all road trips for some.

Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs and Oilers are now ensconced in hotels in their home cities.

“Obviously it is a little weird being home, but being in a hotel instead of your house,” Leafs forward Mitch Marner said during a media video conference call.

Almost 800 players and dozens more team staff have embarked on the completion of a 2019-20 season suspended on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A best-of-five qualifying round starts Saturday at Edmonton’s Rogers Place and Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena.

If the virus doesn’t derail the NHL’s plans, two teams could be playing in the Stanley Cup final as late as Oct. 4 in Edmonton.

The 24 teams in Cup contention got a first taste Monday of what moving between hotels and arenas entails, and what extended hotel living will look like.

“I think today is the day that a lot of these questions get answered,” Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice said.

“And that’s how do you move an NHL team through its day in the situation that we’re in? By the time we’re done our day here, we’ll have a pretty good handle on how this is all going to work.”

Playing hockey — albeit in front of empty seats — might be the easiest adjustment for those whom the sport is second nature.

Navigating life off the ice requires greater adaptation.

Daily testing, wearing masks and credentials, swapping dressing rooms, how they’ll eat meals and occupy their time between games were all new habits to be established.

“We don’t get to grab our own food. That’s a little different, being served,” Jets forward Adam Lowry said.

“You know you’re going to be here hopefully for a while, (so) just to get used to some of the protocols, wearing a mask and make sure you’ve got your credentials on.

“Some of the things you fill out before you enter the rink, that’s going to take a couple days to get used to, but that’s not anything that’s too drastic.”

The NHL’s hub-city concept is designed to wall off players and staff from the general public to prevent contagion.

The league said no players tested positive for the virus in the final week of training camp July 18-25, which is in stark contrast to Major League Baseball’s resumption of the season.

Monday’s Miami Marlins home-opener was cancelled due to a number of players testing positive for COVID-19.

“Getting everyone here was probably the biggest stress point of this whole thing,” Oilers goaltender Mike Smith said. “There were no positive tests here in the last week or so, so that’s important.

“As players I think we feel pretty safe where we’re at right now.”

Players’ hotel room doors are adorned with their respective teams’ logos.

“You’ve got to make your little one-bedroom apartment here for the next couple months as homey as you can,” Nashville Predators defenceman Matthias Ekholm said.

The Predators and Calgary Flames arranged to have family photos in each player’s hotel room upon arrival.

“They must have skipped my room,” quipped Winnipeg’s Adam Lowry.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2020.

Follow @DLSpencer10 on Twitter

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

NHL

Just Posted

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

The Sylvan Lake Gulls show off the home jerseys (white) and their way jerseys at the Gulls Media Day on June 17, before the season opener. Following the media day, the team took to the field for their first practise. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Gulls ready to throw first pitch as construction continues

The Gulls inaugural season kicks off June 18 with a game against the Edmonton Prospects

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

Most Read