It’s been a strange journey to cover the Pittsburgh Penguins this season, and the journey is just beginning. Pittsburgh Hockey Now and this writer are one of five U.S. journalists who have gone to the extraordinary trouble and expense to cover the games live in the Canadian arenas. Per Canadian government rules, all U.S. citizens entering Canada must be essential personnel and quarantine for 14 full days.
I’m still in the process of quarantining near the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto. So, please allow me to introduce a name you probably recognize. Rob Simpson, a.k.a. Simmer, is joining the National Hockey Now family to cover this extraordinary event.
Rob was one of the original and long time NHL Network hosts. Since I am unable to leave quarantine until MONDAY, Rob will cover Game 1 between the Penguins and Montreal. After I’m free, he will provide primary coverage from Toronto for our other National Hockey Now writers, while I focus on the Penguins.
Trust me, the sickness I feel missing from Game 1 isn’t contagious, but it will hurt nonetheless. I’ll have the postgame analysis, and we’ll both have plenty of stories tonight and tomorrow.
Simmer is a sharp hockey mind with decades of experience. As one of his first stories, he’ll provide pictures and an essay from behind the scenes in the arena. It will indeed be a different game for all of us. Simmer will also provide stories with fresh eyes and worlds of experience.
Follow Rob on Twitter, @Simmerpuck.
Much of Rob’s work will be behind our paywall. We’re thrilled to have him. We hope you’ll see the great lengths we’ll go for coverage and join this merry band of rebels, which is turning heads in the hockey establishment. PHN+ subscribe here.
Please, and thanks!
First, check out our predictions for the Qualifying Round, including the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens.
At PHN feel one of our great strengths is having space and the ability to break down the games and provide hockey analysis well beyond locker room quotes or the obvious stories.
You have eyes, you can see. PHN will be going deeper into the analysis of the games beyond who scored, and what that player had to say. As we do during the regular season, we will break down the crucial plays, and show you what went right or went wrong.
We are grateful to the NHL. There are only five of us Yanks north of the border (even if the Boston Globe only listed four, and TSN forgot to include me, too. I tell ya, I get no respect).
From high atop the Scotiabank ice surface, PHN will be able to more accurately analyze the game, since so much of it happens beyond the edges of our televisions.
It was a wild weekend, two weeks ago, as we received backchannel communications that PHN would be permitted inside the arena. Still, we waited for 36 hours to receive the magic letter from the NHL, which asked Canadian authorities to grant us entry as essential personnel. Upon receiving the message near 11 p.m. on Sunday, July 18, I packed everything. I grabbed every pair of underwear, ransacked my apartment to make sure I had every conceivable thing I might need and threw it my old Johnstown Chiefs hockey bag. I also packed one keepsake.
I quickly gave away all perishable foods and scrubbed my kitchen because I knew it would be at least a month before I was home again, and hit the road early the next morning.
If the Penguins or one of the other Hockey Now teams go on a run, it might be three months since I left before I can return home.
But here we are. I’m still holed up in this room, though the Airbnb owner did upgrade my room to a slightly larger stead with a balcony. The sunlight and fresh air have been a godsend, even if I sacrificed my mini-fridge with the ability to keep my fudge-wrapped peanut butter cookies cold.
For now, I’ll sip my mocha from Hills Bros powder, which I made in the bathroom sink like a fine prison wine. It doesn’t matter because today we have hockey. I promise National Hockey Now, led by PHN will have THE best coverage in the country of the Pittsburgh Penguins and all of our teams. And if it’s not the best, I want you to tell me so that we can make it even better.
Here we go. See you on the other side.
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Poor Sheng Peng is the only writer in our group whose team isn’t playing
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) August 1, 2020