The Tampa Bay Lightning wasted little time jetting out of Edmonton’s NHL bubble after winning the Stanley Cup.
The team’s charter flight was in the air by 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, leaving behind what will be remembered as possibly the toughest mental and emotional Stanley Cup victory in league history.
“The boys, obviously with COVID-19 they came together as a group,” said two-time Stanley Cup winner Patrick Maroon, who won the cup last year as a member of the St. Louis Blues.
“They sacrificed being away from their families and kids, and I think it’s probably one of the hardest trophies to win,” said Maroon, who spent most of three seasons with the Edmonton Oilers.
He is now the eighth player in NHL history to win back-to-back cups with different teams.
The Lightning beat the Dallas Stars four games to two, with a decisive 2-0 shutout win to clinch their second cup in franchise history.
The playoffs got underway on Aug. 1, when 24 teams were split between NHL bubble cities in Edmonton and Toronto.
Here’s a look at some of the numbers.
33,394 – Total number of COVID-19 tests administered between July 26 and Sept. 28, with no positive results.
1,452 – Total number of league and team personnel who stayed in the “bubble” secure zones.
558 – Number of players across the 24 teams who played in at least one game.
130 – Number of games, including 75 in Edmonton and 55 in Toronto.
65 – Number of days from the arrival of the teams in the hub cities on July 26 until the Lightning won the Stanley Cup on Sept. 28.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he’s proud of what the league accomplished and how the players followed the rules, considering some were away from their families for more than two months.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, worked closely with the league and the province to establish protocols before the NHL was allowed to hold part of its tournament in Edmonton.
“I think that the ability to have a strict bubble that was enforced combined with testing that was done, I think those are all things that worked well,” she said.
Though Edmonton hosted the conference finals and the Stanley Cup finals, there was little extra activity downtown near Rogers Place.
‘Usually there’s a buzz in the city’
Aside from businesses directly servicing the people inside the bubble, the local economic impact was limited, said Dan Mason, professor of sports management at the University of Alberta.
“I think that there’s usually a buzz in the city when there’s a major sporting event going on,” he said. “But I think that the bubble was so well contained that you didn’t necessarily experience that.
“There weren’t any additional benefits that were being received by virtue of more people coming and going out for food and going to pubs and that kind of thing.”
For local hairstylist Crag Boa, the NHL bubble provided an experience he’ll never forget.
Thanks to a hook-up through his friend, Max Kerman, the lead singer of the Arkells, Boa was selected to provide haircuts for everyone from technical staff to star players.
‘Those stories and those experiences’
“One day I cut, you know, the head coach, two assistant coaches on Vegas, the president, the GM, the director of hockey operations,” he said. “So it was it was those stories and those experiences that I think were my favourite.”
As for whether the bubble will continue once the NHL’s next regular season resumes, Mason said the league will likely look at what the NFL, MLB and the NBA are doing before coming out with its next steps.
“That’s going to be a huge question,” he said. “I think the players are willing to do this for a playoff run. But the idea of doing this for a full regular season and potentially a playoff run is a different equation.”
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