Jayden Grubbe and his teammates with Red Deer of the Western Hockey League are taking the cliche "living at the rink" to a new level this season.
The players are living in suites at Westerner Park Centrium for the duration of their 24-game season, which began Feb. 26, under COVID-19 protocols agreed to between the team and Alberta Health Services.
Grubbe, a C-rated forward on NHL Central Scouting's players to watch list for January, said so far, the experience has been a good one.
"It's a pretty awesome setup," Grubbe said on the latest edition of the "NHL Draft Class" podcast. "Each guy has got their own mini-kitchen, got their bed from their billet house, and some guys have their own TV or the TV that was already in there. Some guys have a couch, or they got a table. Lot of guys brought their consoles for gaming. It's been pretty awesome so far. Just thankful we get to play, and it's worked out pretty good so far."
Grubbe also talked about how the players are spending their down time.
"Recently it's been a lot of ping pong, getting a little doubles tournament going," he said. "Basketball a little bit. But for the most part Ping-Pong and a bit of video games."
The forward (6-foot-2, 200-pounds) also discussed the NHL players he patterns his game after and what he's trying to show scouts in hope of hearing his name called at the 2021 NHL Draft, which is scheduled for July 23-24.
Red Deer coach/general manager Brent Sutter also joined the podcast and got into more details on how the idea of living at the rink came to be, and how the organizations has been able to keep the players engaged in hockey and school.
"We have a classroom set up in the media lounge, and the kids going to school do that from 9-11:30 every day. Lunch is served around a quarter to 12 to 12:30 and then we practice around 1:30 or 2," Sutter said. "It's worked out well. We're trying the best we can with what we're doing and it's been fantastic. The players, they've been awesome."
Sutter also discussed how the players have looked through two games, how his discussions with NHL scouts have changed this season and other topics.
The podcast is free, and listeners can subscribe on all podcast platforms, including iTunes, Spotify and Google Podcasts. It also is available on NHL.com/multimedia/podcasts and the NHL app.
Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class