NHL looking to add Edmonton restaurants to playoff bubble

Published July 14, 2020 8:20 p.m. ET

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EDMONTON -- The NHL is looking to bring some Edmonton restaurants into the bubble when western conference teams begin to arrive later this month.

This would mean any restaurant that chooses to join the league would have to be closed to the public for the duration of the remainder of the NHL season.

One of the owners of Sabor Restaurant, Christian Mena, said they have had conversations with the NHL about feeding players and staff.

“There’s a certain amount of esteem that goes into the idea that you would be considered to be part of the bubble,” said Mena.

He said that at the end of the day the decision will likely come down to money.

“We have just gone through three and a half months of being closed, or next to closed, so obviously finances are always something you have to look at very meticulously,” said Mena. “Is it going to balance out? Is it going to help the restaurant or is it going to contribute to its downfall?”

Bryan Schmidt, the General Manager of Mercer Tavern in Ice District, said that while they haven’t been approached by the league, they have thought about the possibility.

“A pro would obviously be guaranteed business,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt said a con would be not being able to allow regular customers in to watch the games in the restaurant and that some are already asking about that possibility.

“We’re excited to have something for people to come down and watch again… Oilers will be the number one focus for us but there will be a lot of other options.”

Mena said that Sabor has seen many hockey players in the past, both from the Oilers and visiting teams. He said that hockey is important to the restaurant, but so are their regular customers.

“Business has been very decent, we’ve had a lot of support from Edmonton, so from the point of view of having to close down to our regular customers obviously it’s nothing that we’re too thrilled about.”

Over the weekend an NBA player garnered attention after leaving that league’s bubble in Florida to get delivery food. The Oilers said incidents like that shouldn’t be a problem in Edmonton.

“We've all been taught in the last couple weeks and months how to take care of yourself and do the best you can to minimize your chance of spreading and getting it,” said Andreas Athanasiou, a forward with the Oilers.

“You know, I don't think I need to be leaving the hotel for anything. I think I can get food at the hotel, so yeah, I can play a little video games, watch Netflix, so I think I'll be just fine,” said Oilers right wing Kailer Yamamoto.

Games are scheduled to resume on Aug. 1.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Carlyle Fiset


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