NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The Nashville Predators are one of 24 NHL teams who entered one of two Canadian "bubbles" on Sunday as they prepare to restart their seasons.
“Walking into it is the starting point of these games and the playoffs,” said Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm. “Exciting but surreal, and it’s not the usual.”
Staying in the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Edmonton, the players were greeted with a nice surprise when they got to their rooms – pictures of family members on their bedside tables, which was a special twist the Predators organization wanted to add.
“Everybody’s gonna miss their families and that was cool to seen in our room,” said Captain Roman Josi. “On our floor, there’s a lot of Predators stuff.”
“A giant undertaking for what’s happening in both these bubbles,” said forward Nick Bonino. “I don’t think any detail has been overlooked.
The NHL released the most important detail on Monday as bubble life begins. The league announced that over the last week, more than 800 players across North America were tested for COVID-19. Zero tests came back positive.
“I think it speaks volumes with hockey and hockey players,” said Predators head coach John Hynes. “There’s no issues with any teams, and even being here and seeing everyone play by the rules. Everyone’s social distancing and wearing masks.”
“In Phase Three, we weren’t in a bubble, so guys could go out and go to restaurants and do what they wanted, and I think guys on every team kinds of shut it down,” said Bonino. “Now that we’re here with no positive tests, it gets us started off on the right foot.”
Monday marked the first of three straight days of practices for Nashville in Edmonton before its exhibition game Thursday against Dallas.
“Week three, obviously the practices will be a little shorter than what they were in training camp, and now it’s about fine-tuning and preparing for Arizona,” said Josi.
“A lot of abnormalities, but when we’re on the ice, it feels natural and normal and we’re looking forward to getting going here,” said Bonino.
Every team will be tested daily for COVID-19, and like MLS and the NBA, the NHL now gets its chance to see if its quarantine bubble will work as hockey tries to resume its season.