With their two-week long summer training camp complete, players on the Winnipeg Jets are now in their hub city of Edmonton, already undergoing their first practice on Monday with their first exhibition game now just 48 hours away.
“You know what? It’s been pretty darn normal,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. “After today from a hockey point of view, we’re almost into a regular NHL season, or into the playoffs. So we’ll be done any kind of conditioning. Practices will shorten up and duration will shorten up.”
But life inside the bubble will be anything but normal, confined to their hotels when they’re not playing or practicing.
“Everyone has their masks on when they’re supposed to,” Maurice said. “We’ve got a fairly strong restrictions in the first five or six days where we won’t be milling around the bubble area. We’ll be pretty much hotel room and rink. And meal room, and there’s a players lounge. So that’s kinda gonna be your life right now.”
“You don’t get to grab your own food,” Jets forward Adam Lowry said. “That’s a little different, you know being served. But I think coming into the bubble – we know what we’re focused on. It’s kinda of just like an extended road trip.”
The Jets already named their 31-man playoff roster. Defencemen Nelson Nogier and Logan Stanley, along with forward C.J. Suess were all left back in Winnipeg. But they did add a fourth goalie, with the Jets including Russia’s Mikhail Berdin on their final roster as insurance.
Berdin did not take part in their training camp, but will join the team shortly in Edmonton.
“You can play a defenceman at forward, and you can play a forward at the back end,” Maurice said. “But you get into a goaltending problem, you got a real problem.”
After four months off, hockey officially returns on Tuesday with the first three exhibition games. And really only one thing is assured as the league enters these uncharted waters.
“Guaranteed no one ever forgets who won the 2020,” said Maurice.