Inside the Bubble Blog Getting ready for next round in Toronto, Edmonton

Steve Mayer in Edmonton 

For the first time in almost two weeks, we have only one game today in Edmonton – Game 6 between the Dallas Stars and the Calgary Flames.

But this is the first time we’ve had only a night game. So it’s a day to catch up and it’s also a day to plan ahead, and I’ve been doing both.

When it comes to catching up, one of the toughest things while inside the bubble and given the job is finding the time to return emails and phone calls and keeping up with the sheer number of each. So a day like today helps dwindle my to-do list.

When it comes to looking forward, there’s a lot on our plate. 

I just got off a phone call with our creative services at the NHL led by Paul Conway and Greg Mueller. These are the guys that have the creative vision for all our graphics both on our LED screens and on our seat covers inside the arenas.  

We’ve been talking a lot about how we can improve from round to round and how we introduce new elements into the mix.

On the call today, we focused on the Stanley Cup Final and how we’re going to change the environment a little bit. We’re hoping to also produce historical elements that speak to the incredible moments our fans have witnessed over the years and do it in a very creative way within the environment we’ve created here in Edmonton.

While we were on the phone, we also talked a bit about our NHL Awards program, which will start during the conference finals, and what that will look like. And we’re already planning for the 2020 NHL Draft, which will take place Oct. 9 with a virtual twist.

Paul and Greg are my partners on all our field designs for our outdoor games, our incredible award-winning logos for all our events and the consistently amazing look to all the video elements that we produce on a daily basis. They are incredible at what they do, and we appreciate their work.

Even though we’re here in Edmonton, it is important for us to recognize the work that’s being done outside the bubble.

Whether it’s an amazing team of producers and editors cranking out content from their homes in the New York area.

Or David Proper and his great team on the broadcast side that works on the broadcasts, rights and schedule.

Or Steve Hatze Petros and Nicola Torchia who make that schedule.

Or the incredible team of hockey operations personnel, led by Colin Campbell, Mike Murphy and Kris King, that work every single game in Edmonton and Toronto.

Or the public relations staff that works around the clock from New York and Toronto putting out information to our fans, our broadcasters and our staff.

Or our social media people led by Heidi Browning and Sean Dennison, who are working with teams in Edmonton and Toronto to crank out minute-by-minute content on all our social platforms.

Or Kim Davis’ social impact, growth initiatives and legislative team, who have been so supportive as we highlight heroes of our local communities during our broadcasts from both hub cities.

Or the Department of Player Safety, which watches every minute of every game in New York and has to make really hard decisions daily. 

And how about our finance team? I am really good at spending money and Regina Sullivan is the best ever to keep me in mind. She’s such a vital piece of our event team and our business go-to.

Our partnership marketing and sponsorship team also has given us great support. They even put together an awesome gift bag for all the workers here that was so appreciated.

Of course, the biggest supporters have been Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and Commissioner Gary Bettman. I am sure they can’t wait until our 20 calls a day go away.

These people need to be recognized for their long hours and hard work. They also need to know how much we appreciate their support.

We are looking at schedule scenarios that could involve moving up the second round with the first round potentially being completed in the next couple of days. We’re prepared for just about everything here and we’re standing by and ready to go.

The beauty of this tournament is the unexpected and how unpredictable it is on and off the ice. 

Every one of us that has experienced what we truly believe is the greatest event in all of sports know we need to be nimble and willing to adjust.

So, even though today we’re waiting for an evening game, we all know we need to use our time wisely in preparation. 

One of the other things that we had to do this morning was say goodbye to another team. The Arizona Coyotes left the hotel around 10 a.m. on their way back to Phoenix. 

The Coyotes were obviously disappointed, but the feedback our team received was that they were very appreciative of their time here in the Edmonton bubble. At one point we had well over 1,000 people here. Now we’re down to little over 500 and by Sunday night we’ll be down to 400. 

Among the things need to focus on next are the cleaning of rooms, the movement of people out of the Sutton Place Hotel and the closing of that hotel on Monday.

Even though the bubble shrinking, it has not burst, and we continue to look ahead to the lifting of the Stanley Cup and the completion of a successful tournament. 

So long from Edmonton, Alberta.


Dean Matsuzaki, in Toronto 

After a very full day at the arena yesterday for tripleheader day, I spent most of my morning working out of the Fairmont Hotel. A busy morning as the official population of the Toronto bubble was reduced by 104 with two teams departing. As the next few days play out, we will find out the next two teams that will be leaving us and who will be moving on to Round 2.

As the population in our bubble decreases so does our need for hotel rooms and function space. Our on-site hotel duo of Rebecca Dreifuss and Juliana Easlon are working hard on all the planning and logistics of consolidating our group down to a single hotel property for the next round. With two of the four current round series concluded they have some of the answers, however many variables still exist with respect to teams and timing. I believe they have about eight scenarios in play right now and with each game completed we can remove one or more. 
As I was typing this I took a quick call from Lynn White in our International Business group and realized two things: One, I never thanked her, and more importantly, her daughter Caroline publicly via this blog for the wonderful care package of homemade chocolate chip cookies they sent to all of us here in the Toronto Bubble. Thank-you Caroline and Lynn! Two, I have been mentioning a lot of the hard work and efforts of many of our staff here inside the bubble, but also should recognized all the support this event is receiving from staff working some very long hours remotely from their home offices. The list is lengthy, and I know I will probably miss some key people but do wish to recognize a few. Patrice Distler, Daniel Ages, Lynn White and Christine Starr for the countless hours managing the testing database and reconciliation, travel permissions & regulatory filings, pre-testing for staff & vendors and many other things. Thanks to our Events Finance Team, Regina Sullivan, Tamara Bonilla, Anthony Pinghera, Joseph Tanzi and Donny Kuffler for all their support as building a bubble isn’t cheap! Rachel Seiler also in our Finance department but for all her procurement work sourcing masks, gloves, wipes and hand sanitizer.

Our partnership marketing team including Mark Schultz & Marin Hickox for keeping the teams and all our staff hydrated working with our partners at Pepsi/Aquafina to keep us well stocked. I also need to recognize our Events Legal team of Emily Favre, Joe Collins and Zach Lyon for their availability and flexibility as we throw contract after contract their way.

As I mentioned, these are just a few examples of the many who are working behind the scenes in support of the NHL Playoffs in bot Toronto and Edmonton. It’s now time for me to turn my attention back to game day and tonight’s Game 5 in the Islanders-Capitals series.

The last two meetings have been decided by a single goal, so I am sure we are in for another good game this evening. 


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