The intense boredom of being limited to a hotel, arena and concrete courtyard for a month, with another month to go for the lucky ones, seems to be the biggest challenge facing everyone. They do what they can to stay amused with video games, cards, movies and occasional trips to Commonwealth Stadium to play soccer or football, but it can only divert their attention for so long.
“It kind of feels like a long road trip for us,” added Dallas Stars centre Radek Faska. “The NHL did a pretty good job with the set up, but mentally it’s tough to be doing the same routine every day. But we enjoy being together and it’s playoff hockey, it’s what we play hockey for, so hopefully we’ll go far.”
That’s just it: As much as bubble life drives them crazy sometimes, nobody wants to leave. At least, not until the job is done.
“No one is complaining, this is what we all signed up for,” said Stars coach Rick Bowness. “There’s no other place we’d rather be than right here, playing playoff hockey.”
Vegas defenceman Zach Whitecloud is well aware he has become a role model for indigenous people in Canada and the United States. The 23-year-old member of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in Manitoba and says response to his hockey evolution was almost immediate.
“Right when I left (for college in Minnesota), I started having people reach out from back home, people started to show their support,” he said.
“Then I started hearing from people from other areas of Canada who wanted to show their support. Other areas of Minnesota, too. I have a good grasp on where I’m at as a role model for my people. Hearing everyone’s support is huge for me, a reminder that everyone is watching and I’m making people proud back home.”