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Bubble Blog 7/30 - Zach Whitecloud

Take a look inside the bubble with VGK defenseman Zach Whitecloud

by Zach Whitecloud

When you're a rookie in the NHL, veteran players show you the ropes. They offer their leadership to guide you through different situations as you learn how to be an NHL hockey player.

Since we've been here in Edmonton, quite a few of the boys got back into playing video games, so a bunch of us have been playing together quite a bit! You try to give some of the guys who haven't played games like Call of Duty some pointers and where to go to make the game a bit easier off the start haha. It's a bit of a change from them teaching me, to me teaching them about Warzone or something on Xbox. Although, now they're on there with the rest of us gaming and chatting to pass the time.

Before we got into the bubble, I was amazed, but not surprised, by the fan support outside City National Arena as we left for the airport. I loved seeing everyone come out to support the boys. Not that I need to say it, but it goes to show how much passion there is in our fanbase and how much commitment is there from the city to come out and wish us well. They sent us off on the right note. There were flags, people honking their horns and I definitely saw too many Schmidty faces. It gave us all a smile and reminded us how amazing the people in Vegas are.

We had a pretty normal jump up to Edmonton; except we couldn't play cards or anything like we usually do on the plane. I just got back into watching Stranger Things, so I watched a few episodes of that on the way.

Through the first few days, it's had a bit of a "normal road trip" type of feel to it. Obviously without the games in the first three days, but going day-to-day, get up and eat breakfast then go for practice and then back to the hotel. The boys have been sticking around the hotel except for our practices so far and have been hanging out in the player lounge or in our own rooms. I've got all the essentials, my Xbox, a place to relax, and my phone to keep in touch with friends and family! A question that is probably going through a reader's head is "who do you usually play with on Xbox?" because I'd probably ask that too haha. I typically play with Reavo, Schmidty, Roysy, and Tuchy. But Reavo, Schmidty and myself are the OG warzone crew from quarantine 👍🏻

I've called my mom and my buddies since I've been up here. It's funny; I've been away from my family for so long and the first couple of nights here I've been playing Xbox for a few hours. I get on there with the boys and get carried away and forget to call my family. I need to do a better job of calling my parents and friends, staying in touch and seeing what everyone is up to in the non-bubble world.

There's a general sense here among all the players that we all just want to get to playing. We've been sitting around for five months; we've gone through camp and now we're here. You just want to get started. For us, we have four practices and then we play our exhibition game. For us, we've put in extensive work and detail into our preparation to come out of the pause ready and firing on all cylinders for the round robin and playoffs.

Going into the exhibition game, I want to get up to speed as quickly as possible, make good smart plays, and execute. We want to get back to battling and playing every game like it's our last. Reavo mentioned the physicality aspect to our game, in camp you don't want to be putting guys into the glass every shift and risking injury. So I think the physicality will be something to focus on, for myself in particular.

I think back to when our season went on pause and how far we've come since then. One thing that's resonated with the whole group was Kelly McCrimmon telling us to take the pause seriously and benefit from it. Throughout the pause, we've looked after ourselves and stayed in good condition so we can come back healthy. We did that very well and everyone came back ready to go right away and that's going to pay dividends as we get into it. We'll be ready to fire on all cylinders right off the hop and I'm excited for everyone to see that we have taken this seriously.

I've been waiting for this for a long time. Just like many other hockey players, I grew up on the backyard rink as a kid pretending to be an NHL player winning a Stanley Cup. I'm really more eager than nervous. I just want to get going. You always hear the stories of guys who go their whole careers without even playing in the playoffs. For me as a younger player, you never want to say it, but there is the chance that you never get back to this stage whether that's due to injury or anything else. You don't ever want to take that opportunity for your teammates and yourself for granted. At the end of the day, I'm excited to go compete for a Stanley Cup. I want to play for our fans, for our organization and for Vegas. We want to go out there and try to bring the Cup home. There are a lot of emotions going on because we've been working all throughout phases 2, 3, and 4 to come out ready. All that hard work and attention to detail is going to pay off.

I was telling Coach DeBoer on the ice that growing up, I never had a favorite team. My dad didn't have one, so we'd watch whatever hockey game was on. When that was over, we'd watch whatever game was on next. My favorite players growing up were Jordin Tootoo and Mike Ferland. They're two Indigenous guys that I've always looked up to. This is what every kid dreams of and the chance we have as a team to go out and compete for a Stanley Cup is so special. It's going to be one heck of a journey. And I'll keep all of you updated throughout the ride, but for now, enjoy the hockey Vegas 😎

-Zach

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