Late Sunday the Bruins arrived in the Toronto bubble, which they will now call home until they're either eliminated from the playoffs and return home or reach the Eastern Conference finals and move to the Edmonton bubble.
They haven't had time for too much exploring before their first practice Monday afternoon, but their first impressions of the setup have been positive.
But now the league has in fact made it to the bubbles, which should be safer for everyone and should alleviate a lot of concerns about what players are doing away from the rink. Patrice Bergeron acknowledged there is a sense of relief now that they're finally here.
"Yes, I think we’re relieved," Bergeron said. "There’s a lot of unknowns like we’ve said many times. You don’t know if this thing’s going to happen or when it’s going to happen. The protocols in Phase 2 and Phase 3, it seemed like it was taking a lot of time and kind of dragged. Obviously happy that we can get this thing going."
Getting into the bubbles looks even more important given the troubling news that hit Major League Baseball, which is not playing in bubbles, Monday morning. Two games have been postponed following a COVID-19 outbreak among the Miami Marlins that has seen a dozen players and two coaches test positive.
The feeling around the NHL remains one of optimism given how different their situation is than MLB's, and the Bruins said they feel pretty safe in the bubble based on what they've seen so far.
"I think we’re in a great situation here in a bubble," Kuraly said. "It seems to be pretty airtight. We’ve got our testing. I feel very safe. I don’t think that’s a concern, at least not for myself. We’re practicing all the guidelines as best as we can. I think you just do that and hope all the guidance we’ve been given is going to lead us in the right direction. It doesn’t mean it will for sure, but just do the best we can and realize that by doing that, we’re giving ourselves the best chance to finish this season."
Another aspect of bubble life that everyone is looking forward to is actually being able to hang out with their teammates outside of practices and games. During the Phase 3 practices over the last two weeks, players were on the ice together, but then weren't doing anything else as a group and weren't hanging out once they left the rink.
In the bubble, though, there will be more freedom away from the rink, with teams being allowed to hang out together and eat together. Bergeron said he's looking forward to the return of that team bonding they usually have on road trips, especially because of how well the Bruins all get along.