Canucks wrap training camp, prepare to enter NHL bubble in Edmonton
VANCOUVER -- After going through the paces one final time at Rogers Arena Saturday morning, the Vancouver Canucks' second training camp of the bizarre 2019-20 NHL season has come to a close.
The Canucks haven’t played a meaningful game since the season was suspended in March as the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping North America.
On Sunday, the team will fly to Edmonton and enter the NHL’s secure bubble with 11 other Western Conference teams that will compete for a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.
“It’s going to be fun hockey and these are the games that I like to play in, so I’m really looking forward to it,” said forward Michael Ferland, who turned heads with an impressive showing at camp after missing almost all of the regular season due to recurring concussion issues.
This year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs won’t look like anything we’ve ever seen before.
The expanded tournament includes a play-in round, allowing 24 teams to participate in the post-season, rather than the usual 16.
The clubs have been split between the two hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto, where players, coaches and support staff will live in secure bubbles.
The National Hockey League has promised a unique game experience with additional camera angles and pumped-in crowd noise, which it hopes will add atmosphere to arenas that will be completely empty of fans.
“There’s going to be no outside noise, so it’s going to have to come from within the group and the locker room and from us individually,” said forward Jay Beagle, who won a Stanley Cup during his time playing with the Washington Capitals.
Inside the NHL bubbles, team personnel, including players, will be required to wear masks every time they leave their hotel rooms except when eating, drinking or exercising.
With the Stanley Cup Final potentially stretching into October, they could find themselves living in the bubble for more than two months.
But head coach Travis Green says he has no concerns over the way his players will handle the toll of living in isolation as they chase hockey’s ultimate glory.
“Are there going to be moments where it might feel different and odd and maybe not as great as it normally is? Society’s going through that right now,” he said.
For hockey fans, the tournament should provide a long-awaited distraction from the day-to-day issues brought about by COVID-19.
The Canucks will play an exhibition game against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday before starting a five-game series against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, Aug. 2.