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Neely, Brickley, Edwards Give First Impressions of Hockey in the Bubble

Adjusting to hockey's new appearance in Toronto

by Austin Lewis @NHLBruins / - As the Bruins' first week in the bubble comes to a close, only two days remain before their first round-robin matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers. After offering his take on last night's exhibition game against the Blue Jackets, President Cam Neely addressed the media on Friday morning, providing some insight on how life has been so far in Toronto.

Bubble Boys

"I think the league did a fantastic job of really trying to figure out how to put this together and gives us the best chance to play," Cam said when asked about life on the inside. "Being isolated like this, being in the bubble, testing on a regular basis, not being allowed to go outside the bubble….when they talk about a bubble, it really is a bubble. I think the only way this thing is going to succeed is by everybody making sure that they stay in the bubble and behave accordingly."

When asked about what it felt like watching the game in-person, Neely explained, "It's a different environment none of us have seen this at the NHL level, a live hockey game like this. It's similar to watching a practice although you're playing against another team."

Life in the bubble isn't all about hockey though - it's important to have some fun, too. Neely revealed that he has exciting plans scheduled for Friday afternoon.

"We have the access to all those amenities that the players do," Neely said. "For example, we're going to play a little pickle ball on [Friday afternoon]. I know a couple guys have already been at the golf simulator."

During his zoom conference, Neely also commented on the unfamiliar nature of watching games without fans and how the viewer experience differs for those watching from afar.

"Well, this is strictly made for TV that's for sure. I watched a period and a half when we first got here and it was a strange experience being in the building watching it live. Then I watched some games on TV, which felt a little bit more normal." 

Video: Neely talks to media about Thursday's exhibition

Edwards & Brickley

Thursday night's exhibition game was held on New England Sports Network, but given the complicated circumstances of having to operate remotely, their broadcast methods were forced to change for the playoffs. NESN's crew used the feed produced by NBC in Toronto and redirected it to their studios in Watertown,MA. Play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards and color analyst Andy Brickley provided commentary while watching from a television screen inside the studio, that was then redistributed onto their own network channels.

When asked about their experience during gameplay, NESN's Bruins' broadcast duo did not hold back their excitement.

"It was awesome," Brickley exclaimed. "So fun to be back in the saddle and doing hockey and calling hockey games, and doing Bruins games, knowing that the post-season is just a matter of days in front of us. To be able to get a few reps in, just like the players are." 

Brickley said that, not unlike the players, both he and Jack could only benefit from a few practice runs.

"It was necessary for us, we needed a little training camp ourselves and it's more challenging given the circumstances that we're trying to broadcast these games...I did go back when I got home last night and watched some excerpts of what we did and it did have that seamless appearance maybe to most viewers, but we knew the challenges that we were facing. And I thought we did a really nice job for our first kick at the can…I thought it was pretty smooth."

Jack Edwards', also showing his excitement for hockey's return, stated that it may take some time for him to adjust to the new broadcast style.

"For me it got a little bit more comfortable as we went on. It had been almost 10 years since I called a game from a monitor," Edwards said. "I was really cautious during the first period, not wanting to make a mistake. I think it got more comfortable as we went along. It was really difficult for me to get a feel of the game…but it was great to be back, just calling hockey and being immersed in the game, not worrying about the world's troubles."

Video: Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley talk remote reporting

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