Flyers’ Provorov hopes team won’t feel trapped inside ‘bubble’ when playoffs start

Ivan Provorov

There have been some memorable films involving the ultimate sin city – from Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas to Frank Sinatra in Ocean’s Eleven to Elizabeth Taylor in The Only Game in Town.

But those were all fiction.

In 2020, Ivan Provorov and the Flyers are hoping to sort of make their own show. . .and a real-life epic at that just off The Strip.

The plot? A dozen NHL teams are holed up in the gambling capital of the world, some for weeks on end.

Adding to the intrigue: How are you going to keep a few hundred young, healthy, red-blooded men cooped up in some hotels in downtown Vegas with the glittering lights just a few steps away?

The goal? To stick to a strict health regimen and somehow challenge for a Stanley Cup.

In an interview with the Flyers’ public relations department on Wednesday, Provorov talked about the prospect of “living in a bubble’’ if the NHL resumes in late July/early August.

It would be tough enough to be sequestered in an average American city. But to be honoring a quarantine in Las Vegas, well, that just doesn’t seem fair, does it?

“I think it’s definitely going to be different, a little weird,’’ Provorov said after an informal workout at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. on Wednesday. “Being away from family and friends for that long. . .but I think the guys are used to being on the road. Let’s just say it would be one long road trip that we’re going to be a part of.

“I know the league (NHL) and the NHLPA (NHL Players’ Association) are doing everything that they can to make the environment for us the best possible. Even on the days off, hopefully we’ll be able to kind of get away from the hotel a little bit, watch a movie, hang out with the guys so we don’t feel trapped.

“I think it would be different but I think it would be exciting. However many days we’re going to be there. Hockey and the boys, that’s it.’’

So far, the informal training sessions at the Skate Zone, which began on June 8, seem to be productive.

“It’s been great to get back to the facility that we’ve used to skate and work out, see some of the guys come in and spend some time together at the rink, talk and just catch up,’’ Provorov said.

“I guess it feels a little bit more real that hockey is almost back.’’

When the pandemic shut things down back on March 11-12, Provorov was fortunate enough to be able to skate on his own, at a private rink near Wilkes-Barre. Provorov went back to stay with the billet family from his junior hockey days.

He says that helped keep him from getting rusty during the three-month break.

“It definitely helped,’’ he said. “You can’t really feel rusty. I was lucky enough that I was able to keep skating and try not to lose any strides.

“I think the practices here over the past week and a half now have been great. It’s definitely helping to get back to game shape and hopefully some more guys are going to come back soon and we’ll get more like team practices and stuff like that.’’

It wouldn’t be a daily Flyers interview without asking about the challenge of regaining the momentum the team had built with a nine-game winning streak in early March.

“It was definitely unfortunate when the season was paused. . .we were definitely rolling,’’ Provorov said. “Like I said before, it was definitely the best hockey I’ve been part of for the four years I’ve been here.

“Hopefully it doesn’t take us a long time to get back to that. I think the three weeks of team practices that we’re going to have are definitely going to help. Hopefully we can come back with the same way we played and the same confidence and we don’t lose a beat.’’

At least the Flyers will be able to see some game action in the round-robin tournament of the East’s top four teams before the actual Cup action begins.

“I think this is probably the best possible way to go about it with the time that we have,’’ Provorov said. “There are so many teams close to the playoffs and there were still a decent amount of games left in the season. I think this is the best format possible and everyone is going to try to make the best of it.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2451 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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