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Regal Rundown: Exhibition games strange, but not unwelcome

Hockey’s always been a nice distraction, but now it’s got its own distractions.

TORONTO, ONTARIO - JULY 28: William Nylander #88 and Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs talk on the ice during the first period of an exhibition game against the Montreal Canadiens prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on July 28, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

There’s never been an NHL season quite like this.

On Tuesday, the league officially/unofficially made its return, hosting three exhibition games — two in Toronto, who is hosting the Eastern Conference and one in Edmonton, who currently homes the West.

For the first time in who knows how long, I spent a whole day watching hockey. It was only a little bit weird.

Some things didn’t seem strange until I thought too much about them. I had to turn my TV volume up so I could hear the games over my air conditioning and since when do I have air conditioning on during a hockey game? Okay, that’s probably a more frequent occurrence if you’re in LA and not in Michigan, but still.

The ambient crowd noise that they added to the broadcast was a touch I actually appreciated, even if it was a bit controversial. There were plenty of people complaining about it on Twitter, but as long as you didn’t spent too long looking at the covered seats and realizing there’s no source for the sound, it’s fine.

Other differences? Intermission interviews are done at a distance. Brian Boucher spent the whole game in a glass box. I believe it was during the Montreal Canadiens versus Toronto Maple Leafs game where the broadcast showed the cleaning crews that come out during TV timeouts and intermissions to disinfect the benches and they were in hazmat suits.

All of the weirdness it creates aside, I’ve been pretty encouraged by the measures the NHL has put in place to keep people safe — especially the people who do have to do things like clean up after the sweat gross dudes we like to watch play games. I would always rather they be too careful.

What about you? Did you tune in to yesterday’s games? Will you tune in once Qualifiers officially start? Or who cares, if it’s not the Kings? Let me know in the comments.

Now on to today’s links:

News & Notes

  • Kings’ European scouts back on the road to help figure out draft strategy [The Athletic]
  • Rod Brind’Amour: ‘Now that you’re here, you know that hockey is right around the corner’ [Canes Country]
  • Oilers hold moment of silence for Cave, play touching tribute video [NHL.com]
  • Twitter, Disney And The NHL Form Partnership As Hockey Nears Its Return [Deadline]
  • First Game In NHL Bubble Looks And Sounds … Fantastic [CBS Boston]
  • Zoom Workouts and On-Ice Drills: The Life of a Ref in the NHL Bubble [Sports Illustrated]
  • ‘There is no playbook for this’: Inside broadcast plans for the NHL’s return [The Athletic]

Recaps & Scores

Click each team’s name to find a recap on their own SB Nation team site!

On the Schedule