Published Sunday, July 26, 2020 6:18PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 26, 2020 7:52PM EDT
They got a first taste Sunday.
The 24 teams - each with a 52-person travelling party - set to participate in the league's restart entered the secure zones in two Canadian cities ahead of the resumption the pandemic-halted 2019-20 season.
“We're just excited to get into our setup,” Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman said Saturday. “Get into the hotel, see what's available, see the lounges.”
People entering Canada usually have to isolate for a mandatory 14 days upon arrival, but the federal government approved the NHL's modified cohort quarantine plan - 18 of the 24 teams involved in the restart are based in the United States - paving the way for the games to be held north of the 49th parallel.
Each bubble has 14 restaurants for players and staff, as well as a concierge service for deliveries.
“The really unique thing about this is we're going to be with each other 24/7 pretty much,” Hyman said of his teammates. “That's pretty special and doesn't happen very often.
“It's a very unique situation.”
Despite a number of COVID-19 hot spots across the U.S., the league reported just two positive tests during the first week of training camps. The NHL has acknowledged it expects there to be positive tests inside the bubbles, adding it has a plan to deal with that.
“My level of confidence has increased along the way,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said recently of how he was feeling about the resumption of a season that was suspended in mid-March. “I'm comfortable with the protocols and procedures we have in place. And more importantly, I'm comfortable with how all the players seem to have embraced them and taken them seriously and are adhering to them.”