Inside the Bubble Blog: Medical teams real all-stars in Edmonton, Toronto


NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer and League executive vice president of events Dean Matsuzaki — aka the Mayer of Hub City and Dean of the Secure Zone — are embedded in the NHL hub cities for the Stanley Cup Qualifiers and the duration of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They each will be writing a blog for from Edmonton and Toronto to give fans the latest happenings from inside the bubbles.

Here are their entries for Friday:


Steve Mayer in Edmonton

Welcome to Day 74 in the Edmonton bubble. Or sometimes it feels like that.

People have asked me over and over what keeps me up at night and my answer is simply, “not much.” But carrying the responsibility, along with our entire events team, of keeping everybody safe and healthy can weigh on you at times.

My hat goes off to our unbelievable medical team of chief medical officer Dr. Willem Meeuwisse, Julie Grand and, for me especially, Jamie Hacker. Jamie is our lead here in Edmonton, and my go-to over and over and over, regarding anything that has to do with medical and testing.

Jamie is an attorney at the League and was thrown into this role of putting together our testing protocol and making sure we have the safest environment. To watch her grow from an avatar on a daily Zoom call to the person I deal with regularly for advice and guidance has been incredible. 

Jamie and the entire medical team are decisive and should get so much credit for a protocol that has been widely praised. Our events team may have set up the bubble, but Jamie and the medical team, which includes chief hygiene officer Shailla Leroux, our chief medical officer on site Dr. Dhiren Naidu from the Edmonton Oilers and our heads of security J.T. Klingenmeier and Bob Pollicino, have been amazing to work with and have executed their plan flawlessly so far.

A huge credit has to go to my partner in crime Dean Matsuzaki. Even though my blog is much better than his, there isn’t any separation between the two hubs.

I’ve learned so much about events and operations and being calm under fire from Dean. He’s someone I talk to “a thousand” times a day and never have a worry about what’s going on in Toronto because his ship is so well run there. 

We might be getting a little more notoriety for our dad jokes in Edmonton, but Toronto is equally successful because of Dean and his incredible team.

I have to keep telling myself and our entire team we are only a few weeks into this with close to two months left. We cannot rest for a second in order to make this better and better, and we can never let our guard down.

The Stanley Cup needs to be raised this season and Dean and I know we have the teams in place to make that happen.

So onto Day 632 — or actually Day 23 — in the bubble. But our philosophy is “Every day is like Day 1.” 

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Video: Inside the Bubble: Thomas details COVID testing


Dean Matsuzaki, in Toronto

The nice weather has returned to Toronto which is great for teams on their off days. For those of us spending most of our days in the arena, the action on the ice has been so exciting and entertaining that it has kept our minds off the nice weather outside and helped distract us from the cold temperatures in the rink. Derrek King and Hockey Operations group and Ice Crew have maintained a fairly steady ambient air temperature of 14 degrees Celsius (58 degrees Fahrenheit) and 40% humidity. Without the heat load of opening the doors and filling the arena with fans, this temperature has remained quite consistent as is evidenced by the sweatshirts and gloves worn by many of the production staff.

We saw our first Qualifying Round team advance through to the Frist Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the other day. Congratulations to the Carolina Hurricanes. Unfortunately, that means we have also started the process of teams being eliminated. Thus, we had our first team departure from the Toronto Hub yesterday. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination that has to happen in very short order to confirm equipment transfers, hotel departure and team charter flight when a team is eliminated. Kudos to Rebecca Dreifuss and Julianna Easlon on the hotel team, Mark Black, Michael Chute an JR Boyle managing team and equipment transfers and Lynn White helping us with charter flights from back home in New York for all being prepared and ready to accommodate the departures.

With more clinching games on the horizon in three more series, we will inevitably have three more teams departing in the next few days so the group will continue to be busy coordinating all the check outs and travel.

It kind of felt like Halloween came early yesterday in the arena events office. We were restocked with snack items and of course in full adherence to protocols everything has to be in small individually wrapped portions. Hence the Halloween candy reference. The mini Kit Kats seem to be the hit so far but we will have to add Coffee Crisps to the next order so I can introduce my American colleagues to something new. Shout out to Jody Wong who surprised us with all the snacks yesterday. She is playing dual roles while on loan in the bubble to the Events department and continuing her regular role in our Consumer Products Licensing division. Jody has been a seamless and valuable addition to the team pitching in everywhere from transportation to sponsorship activation to COVID-19 Test scheduling and of course the all-important office snacks procurement.

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