Andrej Sekera, a defenceman for the Dallas Stars, has admitted in an interview with Sports.sk that players have started to feel the toll of living in a bubble.
Here is his full claim translated from slovakian : “ We will not lie, it is not funny. Conditions are good, the league took care of it, but it’s a bubble. Everything is still the same : you go to the rink, from the rink to the hotel. Either you order food through a delivery service, or you have three restaurants where you no longer know what to have, because it’s the same for that month. It’s such a stereotype. When we have a day off, we play cards or playstation, but we enjoy it for a few days. The longer we’re here, the harder it gets. We also lack families, women, children and everything connected with it. It’s a bit visible in the other guys. However, let’s hope that we still have five weeks ahead of us and we will finish it victorious.”
It was clear before all the players entered the bubble that staying away from their families for so long would eventually become hard mentally.
While players already have to be tough mentally to be able to handle the multiple tasks of an NHL season, quarantine has added an entirely new aspect to the psychological world of sports. Many people could argue that some players who have had slumps in these playoffs have had to battle with mental health issues related to the bubble life.
I think that, as fans, we need to move away from the old “shut up and skate” mentality. While they do earn a lot of money for playing hockey, none of them signed up for this. I think it’s fairly impressive to see so many players push through quarantine to keep chasing a championship with their teammates.
It’s going to be interesting to see if the NHL’s going to attempt to move back to a non bubble system for the regular season. While other leagues, like the MLB, have had rough patches related to travel between cities, it has ultimately been going good as of late and should be looked at as a viable option heading into next season.
Picture source : USAToday
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