The Boston Bruins started their quest for redemption and their franchise’s seventh Stanley Cup yesterday at Warrior Ice Arena. The Bruins and 23 other NHL teams took the ice for day one of Phase 3, the ‘NHL Return to Play’ training camp in advance of Phase 4 and their August 2nd game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The camp will last for 13 days before the Bruins, and the rest of the Eastern Conference, head to Toronto on July 26th.
A commonly asked question is why did the teams not report directly to Toronto for camp? Why risk nearly two weeks living at home and outside of a bubble? As far as Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is concerned, he’s OK with starting at home and then going to Toronto. Why? It will force even more social distancing discipline from his players.
“It puts a little onus on the player to be responsible, especially these next two weeks when you don’t wanna have guys start getting affected when you’re in the middle of training camp and now they’re around everybody,” Cassidy said. “I think guidelines they put in place earlier to have small pods kind of got the guys ready and to know what to expect. I think our group here, Dr. Finn and Kathleen have done a fantastic job of sort of educating our players and why and it’s worked out really well for us. I expect to have the full group here in a couple of days and I’m hoping it stays that way. Like I said, it’s the responsibility of the players and the coaching staff and everyone who walks through these doors to make sure that you’re doing the best you can to stay healthy, so I’m OK with the setup.”
As Bruins veteran forward Patrice Bergeron pointed out, he and other teammates have and will continue to play it smart until they head north of the border.
“We’ve had that going on for a while,” Bergeron said of his own situation. “We’ve been seeing only one set of neighbors with their kids. We obviously quarantined for a while but then the last month or so, we started seeing each other. It’s been nice that way but we’re still being very careful and wearing masks if needed or to get some food or whatnot and listening to the guidelines.”
Bergeron, and the Bruins core, also made it very clear to their teammates that they expect them to do the same. The Bruins already had one unnamed player test positive in Phase 2. In Phases 3 and 4, there will be a circle of trust that will need to be followed if the Bruins are to not end up like the Montreal Canadiens and other NHL teams that have had mini to good-sized outbreaks.
“Professionalism is going to be huge,” Bergeron said. “We need to rely on everyone for this thing to work. Right now, in Phase 3, you’re allowed to go home and we’re not going to babysit you on your whereabouts and all that so it’s trusting one another and making sure that everyone is doing the right thing and is committed for this thing to work and move forward. I think that’s the most important thing, to be professionals about it, be smart and use common sense obviously.