NHL Bubble Blog: Canadiens’ Romanov joins team in Toronto hub

Shea Weber and Alexander Romanov address the media as the young player has been called up to play with the Montreal Canadiens.

The final day of July brings the final day without NHL hockey, the calm before the storm of games coming our way beginning Saturday.

With exhibition matchups now in the books, all 24 return-to-play teams have had a trial run and a chance to shake off any rust before the real deal.

Here’s a roundup of the latest goings-on inside the hubs:

Romanov joins Canadiens in Toronto

Newly-signed Montreal Canadiens defenceman Alexander Romanov has officially joined the team in Toronto’s NHL bubble.

The Habs posted a short-and-sweet greeting from Romanov to his new fanbase:

Montreal’s promising prospect, who has spent the past two seasons in the KHL since being drafted in the second round in 2018, signed his three-year entry-level deal with the club earlier this month with the intention of coming over to North America for Phase 4.

Though he’s not eligible to take part in any games, being in the bubble means he can practice and work out with the team while getting his first taste of life in the NHL. Because his entry-level contract includes the 2019-20 season, he’ll already have burned a year off his deal when he’s able to suit up for the team next season.

Game nights before game day

Lights, camera, (social-distanced) action!

In addition to being a good feeling-out process for teams shaking off any rust after the lengthy hiatus, this week’s exhibition games also served as a good trial run for members of the broadcast crew as they get acquainted with their new normal of bringing hockey to our screens at home.

Rinkside reporters and hosts like Dan Murphy (in Edmonton) and Chris Simpson (in Toronto) showed us their new views, and we got a glimpse of how intermission interviews are being conducted at a time when one-on-one, in-person interviews are not permitted.

As you’ve no doubt noticed by now, all player and personnel media availabilities look pretty different these days. In-person media scrums in the locker room are now a thing of the past, as reporters don’t have access, and press conferences are still being done remotely, via a Zoom room setup in the bubbles.

Inside the rink, empty seats are covered by special NHL branded tarps and jumbo video screens adorn the rink to add to the outdoor-game-meets-American-Ninja-Warrior vibe the NHL looked to cultivate.

Things look different in-studio, too, with social distancing forcing spaced-out panels while others chime in remotely.

Off day = basically just all-day recess

Malkin gets a birthday surprise from family

Mystery solved…!?

Earlier this week, David Pastrnak tweeted (or someone tweeted) this:

… which led to this:

… and had all of us wondering who stole Pastrnak’s phone.

Turns out… it was, in fact, Pastrnak who hit send on that head-scratching tweet:

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