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A Walk-Around Tour of the NHL bubble in Toronto

“I’ve never seen any fencing up in Toronto with the words ‘Stanley Cup Playoffs’.” I said to my naive self before remembering that the Maple Leafs have been in the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. Yes, it’s been that long.

As the return of NHL hockey inches closer and closer, there’s more and more being blocked off around the two hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton.

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It’s both an exciting and eerie time for hockey. 24 teams are expected to fly into their perspective hub cities today and must be there by Sunday, according to the NHL.

With players not knowing what to expect, it makes this Return-to-Play plan more interesting once the players arrive in their bubbles.

And as much as I want to say that construction has gotten underway, that’s not really the right word to use for this situation.

The fences are up — so far.

Each day, there’s more that’s done to shield the players from the general public. So far, in Toronto, the majority of the bubble has just been fenced off. A black blanket covers up the metal fences, some with the ‘2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ logo draped over it.

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The Royal York Hotel closed on Wednesday to get ready for when the NHL players arrive this weekend. “Conference rooms are being transformed into team lounges. Wi-Fi connections are being set up. And, yes, the vodka has been delivered.” Said Hailey Salvian in an article from The Athletic.

Hotel X, the fancier of the two hotels, is too starting its placing of barriers around their vicinity.

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And Edmonton has even started their construction, if you’d like to call it that:

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It’s going to be interesting to see what each of the 24 teams think of their hub cities in the next week. Obviously not everyone is going to enjoy it, but just to see a perspective of how they’ll be living for the next possible two months will be a treat.

Along with the fencing around each of the arenas and the hotels — Ford Performance Centre, home of the Maple Leafs, and now to 15 other NHL teams has started their fenco (a mix of the words fence and reno). Plus they’ve also got their fair-share of hand sanitizer on hand, according to Chris Johnston.

The biggest takeaway from the Toronto bubble that interests me is what they might transform BMO Field into. From the NHL’s “secure-zone” image, it says it’s a “field for outdoor recreational activities, game viewing and dining options.”

The activities portion seems vague and as I write this, Chris Johnston tweets out this:

Teams who are staying at the Royal York must travel via shuttle to BMO Field, while the other five teams at Hotel X are just a short walk away. But players will be able to keep busy either way with other excursions that include, tennis courts, golf suites, movie theatres and fitness studios, according to the NHL.

It’s not as extravagant as the NBA’s plan, but it’s one that the league and its players are happy with and that’s all that matters.