With the Stanley Cup Final heading to a close, possibly as early as Saturday night, I thought to take a moment to reflect on the NHL Bubble experiment. The possibility of bubbles for next season exists, despite what you may hear Don Fehr or Bill Daly tell their members and employees. They want Hockey Related Revenue, and that requires hockey games, and to play those games without frequent cross-country and cross-border travel requires bubbles of some sort. They don’t have to be permanent, but the idea of business as usual returning seems unlikely. The NHL and the NHLPA won’t say no to the bubble if that’s the best, or only option.

Perhaps they will replace ’bubble’ with a kinder, gentler, phrase. How about calling them ‘Hockey Lifestyle Centres’? Internal documents can use the more accurate bureaucratic equivalent of “Temporary Player Storage and Maintenance Facilities (TPSMF).”

A few journalists have dug deeper into the TPSMF life after various reporters quoted sources saying the Edmonton facilities were not so favourably compared to Toronto’s (no one should be surprised by that!) ESPN went more in depth and found that the players really weren’t too enthusiastic about either location, except for the wide availability of weed gummies for everyone. Sounds like this is really why the players pushed for Edmonton over Vegas!

“Dude, Vegas is a world-class resort centre, and the hotel has outdoor rooftop infinity pools, and a Gordon Ramsay restaurant to cater to our every food whim, and they’ll even reserve a whole golf course for us to use whenever we want! Edmonton is, well... Edmonton.”
“Yeah but Edmonton has legal weed.”
“Oh, right. Fuck Vegas then.”

The fact things were not as advertised in the brochure came as a surprise to no one but the players. The logistics of fly-fishing side-trips, even outside of a global pandemic, are crazy—they all have their Ontario non-resident fishing licence, or an Outdoors Card, right? No? Uh oh. You might want to get out of Ontario fast if you didn’t have one! If that wasn’t a warning bell, they should have noted hotels located directly beside convention centres are there to cater to business travellers, and changing that focus requires a huge dollar and time investment downwards along the hotel business supply chain that wasn’t going to happen.

In any case, it looks like there was still time for fun. I mean look at TvR up there in the header photo; laughing, frolicking, enjoying every moment Toronto has to offer... SIGN HIM, KYLE!

So, whatever the future may hold, at least the players in Canada will enjoy it; stoned and Cheeto’d, playing Mario Kart until 3:00 a.m.. Hopefully Alex Pietrangello likes Cheetos. Though I doubt he can beat a professional like Zach Hyman at Rainbow Road.

Stanley Cup Final

Steven Stamkos came back from whatever injury he had—it has still not been disclosed—to play his first game in the playoffs. The Lightning’s star center was stuffed down on the fourth line left wing slot, probably to help him ease back in since he hasn’t actually played in a game for six months, but it didn’t matter. he still scored a beauty.

(By the way, Arvind, that’s Esa Lindell he easily evades there.)

However, Stamkos didn’t actually get back on the ice after that goal. It’s still not clear if he will play again in this series, though he has made his contribution in that brief window and it was one of five goals the Bolts picked up last night. It was enough to even force  Anton Khudobin from the Stars net who was being touted for the Conn Smythe trophy as recently as yesterday morning, potentially even if the Stars didn’t win the series. That seems much less likely now, and it appears much more likely to go to Brayden Point if the Bolts win it. Khudobin was replaced by Jake Oettinger who Marlies fans may recall as a goalie for the (Austin [Cedar Park]) Texas Stars.

Other News

Contract structure to be a major factor in NHL Free Agent Frenzy - TSN
Limiting exposure in 2020-21 not only cuts down on the risk of pro-rated salaries, but would also shift the bulk of earnings to later years when the escrow percentage is scheduled to drop to six per cent, down from the 20 guaranteed next season.

The one that got away from Gretzky (and other fun Calder Trophy facts) - CBC
CBC Sports' daily newsletter shares some interesting tidbits about one of the few NHL awards the Great One couldn't win.

CRA alleges ex-Leafs participated in a ‘sham’ to skirt paying their share of taxes - The Star
Darcy Tucker and Shayne Corson deny the CRA’s allegations, which stem from their foreign currency trading during their years playing for the Leafs.

Rockford IceHogs sign Cody Franson to 1-year AHL contract - Second City Hockey
[SPECIES: I know that name!]