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The Suite Life of the New York Islanders

Extended hotel stays are just part of life for players breaking into the NHL

by Cory Wright WrightsWay /

Devon Toews is living the suite life. 

The Islanders defenseman has been living in hotels since the start of training camp. He wasn't sure where to live when he was assigned to Bridgeport at the start of the season so he holed up at a Hampton Inn instead of signing a lease. Since being recalled by the Islanders, he's been living at the Coliseum Marriott. 

When the Islanders are on the road, you guessed it, more hotels. 

"It's fine," Toews said. "I'm playing in the NHL. I have no complaints. I've been doing it all year, I signed up for it." 

Six straight months sounds like a long time - because it is - but Scott Mayfield has Toews beat. Mayfield figured he spent around 400 days in Bridgeport and Long Island hotels between 2013-17, when he was going back and forth between the clubs. Four hundred days. That's over a year of his life. 

"You spend a lot of time in hotels when you're first breaking into the league. I think I counted the nights and it was over 400," Mayfield said. "It can be a little tough, but it's like anything, it's part of the job. You get used to it."

Extended hotel stays are fairly common for players breaking into the league, going back and forth between the minors, or for veterans acquired at the trade deadline. Some, like Mayfield, consider it a rite of passage, much like billet families or the other parts of a nomadic hockey lifestyle. 

Tweet from @scottmayfield2:

There are pros and cons to hotel life. 

Pro: It's cost effective. Rent on Long Island isn't cheap. Neither are utilities, cable and internet. 

Con: Room service bills start to pile up. 

Pro: Your bed gets made every day. 

Con: It never really feels like home. 

Pro: Points. Points. Points. How does platinum Marriott status sound? 

"You save money on rent, you get your room made up every day, you get your room cleaned for you," Mayfield said. 

"When you're living in a hotel, you're like 'god, I'd love to just have my own place'," said Matt Martin, who had his own extended stays when first breaking into the league. "Then you get your own place and you have to pay bills, do laundry and wash your sheets. Sometimes you miss the hotel life. It's a lot less responsibility, but having your own space and not being stuck in a 200 square foot room is obviously really nice."

It varies case-by-case. Martin didn't mind the hotel life when he was young and single. Robin Lehner said it was a little more cramped when he, his wife and two bulldogs had an extended stay at Ottawa's team hotel over three seasons as he went back and forth to Binghamton. 

"It was tough with two English bulldogs," Lehner said. "They got really grumpy, they didn't like the hotel room. I had to pay a lot of money to pay for the furniture they chewed up. It's part of the process of breaking into the NHL."

Mayfield got an apartment in Bridgeport the year he got Odis, his special needs golden doodle, but still wound up spending a significant portion of the season in a hotel on Long Island. The team got him a suite to accommodate Odis. 

Video: Meet Odis, Scott Mayfield's special-needs dog

Mayfield said having his girlfriend, dog and a kitchenette helped give a homey vibe to the Residence Inn he was staying in, but the illusion goes away when you pass the front desk. If there's an unintended development, it's that players wind up spending more time at the rink, or out bonding with teammates also at the hotel. 

"There were other guys there and we'd hang out, go to movies, Dave and Buster's or whatever, go home, go to bed. I had other guys with me, so I wasn't stranded in a hotel by myself," Martin said. 

Martin, Mayfield and Lehner all said the suite life is probably easier when you're young and single, as opposed to being a married deadline acquisition, but it's just part of the process. 

"In the beginning of my career it was like hotels are awesome," Lehner said. "But I don't like being in hotels anymore. It gets old."

Martin just tries to think of the positives - and the Marriott points. They still spend around 80 nights a year in a hotel anyways on the road. 

"You spend a lot of time in hotels anyways. I, for the most part enjoy it," Martin said. "The hotel life is not as bad you think it is."

(Top photo: Anthony Benussi)

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