When you have the day off in the Toronto bubble what do you do?
If you’re the New York Islanders, the answer is to hold a ping pong tournament in your hotel. Not only are members of the team chasing a Stanley Cup championship, but they’re chasing the right to be named the “Boys of the Isle” ping pong champion as well.
“I just kind of decided we should have a tourney,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said about it. A video had been posted to the Islanders social media channels and spread quickly around the Isles Twitterverse. ” A lot of downtime in the afternoons here sometimes. Guys just find each other to play the games and we’re hoping for it to last a few days. We’ll crown a champion and then look into a doubles tourney.”
We’ve got a serious Ping Pong Championship happening today. Who will be crowned Boys of the Isle Champions?! 🏓🏓 pic.twitter.com/hEJea44CNO
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 2, 2020
It’s just another peek behind the curtain of life inside the bubble as NHL players try to find activities to kill the time when they’re not practicing or playing. Ping pong has been a popular activity among teams, along with virtual golfing, video games and of course watching the playoffs
Before arriving in the Toronto bubble several Islanders players even mentioned bringing guitars to practice with when they had free time.
However, the time playing ping pong, practicing guitar or participating in other activities with teammates has created a unique situation for the Islanders. During the regular season the players are around one another a lot, but living in a hub city takes it to another level.
It has created a chance for the team to bond like never before.
“The number one thing that comes out of retired players mouths … is that they miss the guys,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “Well, you have nothing but guys in here basically hanging out. This could be an extremely special time for hopefully our team and maybe anybody else in this. You don’t get this kind of time.
“It’s no different than everybody has been hunkered at home because of the pandemic with your families. You’re going to remember that for a long, long time. That’s the special part so make it special and the players are doing that.”
While the Islanders head coach has enjoyed seeing his players making the best of the situation, don’t expect Trotz to be jumping on the ping pong table with them. Trotz chuckled when he said that was the players’ thing and not his thing, but he’s seen plenty of chirping going on about.
The Isles pong tournament may be giving the Stanley Cup a run for it's money.
— NHL Hubs Life (@NHLHubsLife) August 2, 2020
The tournament may be taking a brief pause as the Islanders face the Florida Panthers in Game 2 and Game 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday. There will be a champion crowned at some point and Lee hinted that a doubles tournament may be in the works afterward.
“It’s been a fun thing to do in the afternoon,” Lee said. “It’s a good hang and we’re just trying to have some fun with it. We’re enjoying our time with each other. Spending a lot of time with one another. Looking forward to playing the games, obviously, and it’s fun to just be in a group and get competitive again.”