EDMONTON – If the Blackhawks had it their way, they’d be calling this place home till the middle of the fall. That would mean the team got through the playoffs and competed or won the Stanley Cup.
Then again, they could only be in the Edmonton “bubble” for the NHL Tournament for just over a week should things go south in their preliminary round series against the Oilers.
Either way, it’s important for Jeremy Colliton to give his team the chance to get the lay of the land of their new home for the short or long term.
After practice on Sunday following the team’s arrival in Edmonton for the tournament, the team had the day off to get acclimated to the surroundings. Whether a long or short stay, the area inside the bubble is the only place these players can go.
“Were not having a full workday and we can get all the things done that we need to, but also just figure out where we’re going,” said Colliton of the day off. “Where the meeting rooms are, where the rinks, the dressing room, all those things that we’re gonna need to know where working, to plan out what we’re doing.
“This time is important to us.”
This will be one of the few downtimes for the team once the tournament gets started. A practice day comes Tuesday then an exhibition game with the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blues on Wednesday. Two more days of work then leads up to the qualifying round opener against the Oilers on Saturday.
Games will follow every other day unless the teams play a deciding Game 5, and then it would be played the next day after Game 4.
Hence Colliton is keeping things light as the team arrives in Edmonton, starting with the first workout and continuing into the off day. He’s yet to determine who will start in goal or a set rotation for his lineup for the Oilers game on Saturday, with the focus being on getting the team comfortable with their surroundings.
“It’s kinda a day to get our feet under us and get situated here in Edmonton and understand how we’re going to be living for the next little while,” said Colliton of the first workout Sunday. “Get in the practice rink, see what that’s like.
“So for the most part, the practice was to get them out there, little skate, feel the puck, get the fight out of you, and then move on.”
Because things will get busier for the Blackhawks in the bubble quickly.