Bruins share first impressions of bubble life: 'It's been great so far'

Scott McLaughlin
July 27, 2020 - 1:26 pm
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Late Sunday the Bruins arrived in the Toronto bubble, which they will now call home until they're either eliminated from the playoffs and return home or reach the Eastern Conference finals and move to the Edmonton bubble.

They haven't had time for too much exploring before their first practice Monday afternoon, but their first impressions of the setup have been positive.

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"Got to walk around the hotel and the area we have fenced off here," Sean Kuraly said. "Plenty of space, plenty of room. It seems like we have everything we need. I don’t see any areas where we’re looking for something we don’t have. I think it’s been a great job of getting everything we need. We can go over to BMO Field, there’s plenty of space. It’s been a great setup. We’ve only been here for maybe 12 hours or so, maybe more at this point, but it’s been everything I think we talked about with the (Players' Association) and the league and the team. It’s been great so far."

All along there has been a belief that if the NHL could just get to the bubbles, they would have a good chance to actually complete this season. There were certainly more than a few hiccups along the way with some positive tests around the league, players having to be quarantined longer than expected (or for all of Phase 3 in the case of Bruins forwards David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase), and more players missing practices due to testing issues.

But now the league has in fact made it to the bubbles, which should be safer for everyone and should alleviate a lot of concerns about what players are doing away from the rink. Patrice Bergeron acknowledged there is a sense of relief now that they're finally here.

"Yes, I think we’re relieved," Bergeron said. "There’s a lot of unknowns like we’ve said many times. You don’t know if this thing’s going to happen or when it’s going to happen. The protocols in Phase 2 and Phase 3, it seemed like it was taking a lot of time and kind of dragged. Obviously happy that we can get this thing going."

Getting into the bubbles looks even more important given the troubling news that hit Major League Baseball, which is not playing in bubbles, Monday morning. Two games have been postponed following a COVID-19 outbreak among the Miami Marlins that has seen a dozen players and two coaches test positive.

The feeling around the NHL remains one of optimism given how different their situation is than MLB's, and the Bruins said they feel pretty safe in the bubble based on what they've seen so far.

"I think we’re in a great situation here in a bubble," Kuraly said. "It seems to be pretty airtight. We’ve got our testing. I feel very safe. I don’t think that’s a concern, at least not for myself. We’re practicing all the guidelines as best as we can. I think you just do that and hope all the guidance we’ve been given is going to lead us in the right direction. It doesn’t mean it will for sure, but just do the best we can and realize that by doing that, we’re giving ourselves the best chance to finish this season."

Another aspect of bubble life that everyone is looking forward to is actually being able to hang out with their teammates outside of practices and games. During the Phase 3 practices over the last two weeks, players were on the ice together, but then weren't doing anything else as a group and weren't hanging out once they left the rink.

In the bubble, though, there will be more freedom away from the rink, with teams being allowed to hang out together and eat together. Bergeron said he's looking forward to the return of that team bonding they usually have on road trips, especially because of how well the Bruins all get along.

"I think it’s great," Bergeron said. "The first two phases and Phase 3, it’s one of those things where you had to stay away from guys and stay home as much as possible and respect all the guidelines. Now when you’re in the bubble, you’re obviously still wearing masks and all that stuff, but you can be closer to guys, and it’s just us in it. Obviously you start to really more focus on what’s at stake and why we’re here. I think that’s something we’re all looking forward to and excited about. Looking forward to getting on the ice and moving things along and being together as a team and building something great."

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