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Tacos and Tim Hortons: Penguins Life Inside the NHL Bubble

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Pittsburgh Penguins logo NHL bubble city Toronto

It could have been confused for a video about the future from Epcot Center. Luxury hotels. Exclusive access to restaurants, coffee shops, lounges with board games. The NHL players and personnel will be away from their families for up to two-and-a-half months inside the NHL bubbles. Still, the NHL hub cities have spared no expense for the players’ comfort, and to create a real urban life for the players as if COVID-19 didn’t exist, according to an NHL PR video released on Thursday night.

It will be like downtown city living except, of course, for daily testing.

From the descriptions, the Edmonton bubble city will be more expansive and diverse than the Toronto bubble. In Edmonton, there will be eight movie theaters, coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, and activity spaces, including a pool, ping pong, and even cornhole.

Everything from tacos to Tim Hortons.

NHL players concede there may be some awkward encounters, too.

Inside the Rogers Place arena, there will be team specific lounges to watch TV, hold meetings, and play cards (I guess we’ll know where to find Phil Kessel). The Edmonton bubble will also include 13 fitness centers, weight rooms, and practice rinks.

The Toronto bubble will be separated into two parts, including the Fairmont Royal Hotel, in downtown Toronto, and Hotel X at Exhibition Place. The Hotel X portion of the bubble city will include a movie theater, a swimming pool, meeting rooms, and BMO Field to work out.

The downtown Toronto hub will have pickleball and tennis, but will not have the extensive amenities of the other zones. There will be a private walkway for players to use when going to and from Scotiabank Arena.

A concierge service will deliver take-out orders, medications, groceries, and even deliveries from retail outlets and department stores.

Both arenas will have an abundance of security and what the league is calling “health officers.” The NHL has also promised a unique look and feel to the broadcasts. The networks will put the on-ice sound on a delay, so young ears and gossiped minds are protected.

According to Sportsnet, the NHL will also broadcast team-specific chants on the loudspeakers to simulate a crowd. We’ll see how far the NHL is willing to go when the Penguins play the Philadelphia Flyers. That should be … interesting

The NHL will hold the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final in the Edmonton bubble. And perhaps for good reasons.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Game 1 against the Montreal Canadiens will be one of two games that day, which the NHL has dedicated to front line responders and those fighting for social justice. #WeSkateFor will allow players to personalize decals on their helmet, such as #BlackLivesMatter or #Equality.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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