Free time and sleep in confinement

Hockey: - 31-07-20

(TORONTO) It might not be natural for Canadiens fans to have sympathy for a Maple Leafs player, but you could very well feel the envy in Tyson Barrie's voice.


"The hardest part is you don't spend a lot of time outdoors," Barrie said on video conference Thursday. “The weather is wonderful in Toronto right now. We were driving on Lake Shore Boulevard, everyone was out and about riding bikes. At the hotel, we feel a bit locked in. But it is okay. "

A few minutes earlier, his teammate Jason Spezza made similar comments. “Today, training was early, so we have more time. We will try to take the opportunity to go outside. The biggest change is the lack of outdoor time at this time of year. We will try to make an effort to get out and get some fresh air. "

The Leafs are staying at the Royal York Hotel - the same where the Canadiens' players stay - and must therefore take a shuttle bus to the training center, located in the western suburbs. As they are subject to strict protocol, the “outing” to the training center is essentially their only outing of the day.


The rest of the time, players must spend it at the hotel, unless they have a "social excursion" (we'll come back to this) scheduled. There are plenty of outdoor spaces on the hotel's site, but the Royal York is built right in the city center and doesn't have balconies and large spaces.

The importance of the outdoors

At the same time, the Canadiens players were just taking the air. The team was entitled to a practice break on Thursday, and players took it upon themselves to book BMO Field for a social excursion. During the tournament, the Toronto FC field was transformed into an outdoor “lounge” for players from the 12 teams in the Toronto bubble. To get there, they must take a hotel shuttle.

Perhaps without knowing it, the Max Domi, Tomas Tatar, Victor Mete and other Jesperi Kotkaniemi who went there could thus enjoy a better night's sleep.

“What can be problematic is the issue of light exposure and exercise,” explains Dr.  Joseph De Koninck, professor emeritus specializing in sleep at the University of Ottawa. The body clock, in most people, is longer than 24 hours. If we live locked in a cave, we will tend to go to bed later, we will experience the phenomenon of phase delay. What synchronizes us is exposure to light. "

If players do their exercise in the afternoon, and they don't go out in the morning, they will tend to fall asleep later. Same thing if the meals are later.

Dr.  Joseph De Koninck

CH players, however, will not have a competitive advantage over those of the Penguins. They too had time off, and they too took the opportunity to untie their legs on the soccer field.

See the Penguins at BMO Field:

Disrupted habits

We often hear it: hockey players have their habits, their routine that they develop over the seasons. And this routine will be undermined in the coming days.

The Washington Capitals, for example, will play their first game of the tournament at 4 p.m., and the time for the other two games has yet to be announced. The Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets will play their first game at 8 p.m. and their second at 4 p.m.


Todd Reirden, Washington Capitals head coach

We try to find a routine, but the games and practices are at unusual times, which can be a problem.

Todd Reirden, Washington Capitals head coach

For its part, the CH was training at 10 am Monday. Tuesday practice was at 9:15 a.m., with a game at 8 p.m. Wednesday's session was at 2:30 p.m., while Friday's is scheduled for around noon. However, the first three games of the series against the Penguins are at 8 p.m.

“What wouldn't be good for the body clock at all is if they played a game in the evening and the next day at noon. Too many fluctuations can be harmful. It would be best to play at the same time every day, ”explains Dr De Koninck.

At the very least, the current framework ensures players get their all-important afternoon nap. “A cup of coffee gives you alertness for an hour. A 20-minute nap gives 4 hours of vigilance! », Recalls Joseph De Koninck.

Fathers of families particularly feel the change. Braden Holtby, who has two children, for example.

“I think I have too much sleep, I don't know what to do! said the Capitals goalie. During the season, you go on the road, it's your routine, you don't realize it. There, we just spent four months at home, so it's different to come back on the road. After a few days, you can get into a routine. But I've never experienced this before. We are lucky to have had time to spend with our family in recent months. "

Spezza has four young children at home.

“We're on hockey players' schedules, so we take a lot of naps. We sleep at times we are not used to. My hotel room is a lot quieter than my house, so that's a change! "

In short


Alexander Romanov

The arrival of Romanov?

It was a break for the Canadiens and Penguins players on Thursday, two days before the start of the series. The two teams will therefore be entitled to their last training session on Friday, before getting down to business. The Habs session is scheduled for midday. Defender Alexander Romanov could join his new teammates for the first time. The Russian arrived in Queen City last week, and his quarantine is ending. Remember, however, that he will only be able to train with the group, but will not be able to play.

Enthusiasm for hockey?

The good weather, the slim chances of the Canadiens, the lack of atmosphere… There is certainly a pool of fans who feel less interest than usual for the return of hockey. But in Canada, it seems the fervor is there. The Angus Reid firm conducted a survey showing that 72% of the sample was either anxious to see hockey again, or at least anxious to resume play. At the other end of the spectrum, only 4% of respondents said no. have no interest in the tournament. Basically, the study surveyed 1,519 people, but the 518 who said they usually follow the playoffs closely were chosen for more in-depth questions about resuming play.