Colorado Avalanche: Glimpse Inside the Playoff Bubble for the Team

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 08: The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche stand for the national anthem prior to a Western Conference Round Robin game during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff at Rogers Place on August 08, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 08: The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche stand for the national anthem prior to a Western Conference Round Robin game during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff at Rogers Place on August 08, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche seem well-settled into their bubble life — and they intend to be in that bubble for a long time.

The Colorado Avalanche entered the bubble almost exactly a month ago. On July 26, Avalanche players boarded the team plane behind, leaving Colorado behind. In many cases, leaving families behind, too. With the Avalanche being guaranteed a playoff position thanks to the pre-pause standings, they knew they’d be in the bubble at least a month.

And the prevailing consensus is that they hope they’ll be in the bubble much longer, all the way to the Finals.

How does one prepare to spend so much time away from home? Believe it or not, being an English teacher abroad, I have experience with this at least. It ain’t easy. You have a lot of tough decisions about what you can and can’t bring. And you know life will go on back home without you while you embark on your new adventures.

Adventures may be somewhat slim in the playoffs bubble. After all, the whole point of the bubble is to keep players quarantined away from the real world and the COVID-19 pandemic. So, the players brought their own versions of entertainment with them. As was well-documented at the time, for some Avs, that “entertainment” included their gaming systems.

J.T. Compher is known for being one of the gamers on the team. So are Nathan MacKinnon and Matthew Nieto, though we don’t have pictorial evidence in this case. Hockey players are also renowned golfers, so we saw some players bringing their clubs, or at last putters, onto the plane:

Indeed, defenseman Ryan Graves is so enthusiastic, he tells Avs insider Adrian Dater that he’s working on his putting in the hotel room in the bubble.

Tyson Jost naturally brought his ukulele:

It looks like the nice one, too, not the old one he had to contend with in Edmonton during Phase 2. According to Avalanche play-by-play announcer, his bubble neighbors haven’t complained yet about his playing. And Ian Cole wants to know when his personal ukulele serenade is going to be.

Speaking of Cole, in an ESPN interview, Cole remarked that he’s currently reading a hefty book, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. That’s a heck of a book to bring into the bubble and read on your off time. I can tell you from my experience of living in relative isolation (abroad), you can never have too much reading material.

In fact, Graves told Dater that a few of the players are readers, including captain Gabriel Landeskog, alternate Erik Johnson, Cale Makar, and Logan O’Connor. As for Ryan, he’s reading American Kingpin.

The Avalanche players haven’t had to spend every single day in the hotel complex. They also go to go out of the bubble to play some football — and spike ball:

Apparently, in lieu of “shirts vs skins,” they decided to go “shoes vs skins”:

Not sure I would have made that decision, but peep Conor Timmins on the skins side.
A little game of spike ball:

I’ve never played that game, but it looks like a lot of fun.

The players also love them some soccer:

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is accounted the best soccer player, but Mark Barberio is probably a close second.

Here’s some more Cake Makar content because you can never have too much of that:

These pictures remind me of when he and Tyson Jost went to Air Force Academy to promote the outdoor game. Isn’t it weird that just last summer they were doing that — and just 6 months ago we were attending events with crowds of 48,000?

Anyway, let’s not dwell on that. Speaking of Tyson Jost, he did a video for the NHL showing us what life is like in the bubble.

You see Ian Cole there with a few plates on his table. He jokes that they’re all his, though likely his tablemates left them behind. That said, hockey players do burn in the neighborhood of 4,000 calories a day, so why not. Cole talked a little about the food in his ESPN article:

"“The food has actually been really good. Our team chef has been talking to the hotel, and they’ve been working out the menus. Normally he’s very cognizant of dietary restrictions — gluten-free, dairy-free, stuff like that — so he’s been talking to the chef at the hotel, and they’ve been figuring out ways to work with that, and still make food that tastes good. The hotel has been executing it well, and I’m sure our chef has a hand in that.”"

NHL players get a lot of food from the team chefs — usually pre- and post-game meals as well as those around practice. They also get fed on the plane for roadies. They also eat out a lot on the road. According to Graves, the NHLers in Edmonton only have three or four restaurants where they can eat out in the bubble. He’s gone for the team dinners, but he doesn’t want to eat at them a lot because he could get sick of them.

This team is planning for a long sojourn in the bubble. One thing Cole kept coming back to during his interview is that the team was there on a mission.

He didn’t say it, but it’s Mission 16W, of course.

Next. Rantanen Must Become Big-Money Player. dark

The Colorado Avalanche have the team constructed to have to stay in that hotel bubble a long time. I’m sure it can grow wearying on the players eventually. For right now, however, it sounds like they have pretty good digs.