Jake Gardiner spent his first eight NHL seasons playing in Toronto at Scotiabank Arena, the site of the Eastern Conference playoff bubble. However, the environment at the rink these days is not at all the same.
The Carolina Hurricanes defenceman was a guest on Good Show on Thursday and he spoke about how different it has been playing in a near-empty arena in front of zero fans.
“When you’re watching the game it’s actually a lot more different than when you’re actually playing the game,” Gardiner said. “When you’re on the ice, even if there are fans in the building, you kind of block them out and it’s just you and the other team out there. So, that part hasn’t been that weird, but if you’re watching a game it’s very strange. It’s almost silent in the rink. You can hear everything that guys are saying but it’s also cool at the same time.
“I really noticed it when I was in the penalty box last game and it was extremely, extremely quiet in the building because you’re kind of locked in that enclosed area. That was when I realized it for sure because even when I’m on the bench I’m zoned into what’s going on on the ice and pretty dialled into the game.”
Gardiner averaged 13:39 of ice-time during his team’s three-game sweep of the New York Rangers during the play-in round.
The 30-year-old, who has been skating alongside Haydn Fleury on Carolina’s third defensive pairing, also said it’s been a rather quiet atmosphere off the ice and explained that he hasn’t really fraternized with players from other teams in bubble life.
“It’s not a rule or anything. I think it’s an unwritten rule that you just don’t really hang out with the other teams during this thing until it’s all over,” he added. “We’re all here for a goal and that’s to win the Stanley Cup.”
The Hurricanes are set to play the No. 3 seed from the Eastern Conference round-robin when the first round of the best-of-seven series begins next week.