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The Avalanche playoff quarantine life: Hello from Edmonton

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Edmonton

EDMONTON, ALBERTA – My first sentence is going to sound like I’m kissing up here, but it’s always been an honor to come to Canada for hockey games. My first ever road trip with the Colorado Avalanche was to this country, Sept. of 1995, to Cornwall, Ontario. Twenty five years later, I’m sitting in an Airbnb in Edmonton, serving (technically) Day 2 of a 14-day quarantine.

Why am I in Edmonton, Alberta, serving a 14-day quarantine? Because the Avalanche are playing postseason games here in a couple weeks and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to be in the building when they happen. Of the hundreds of Avs playoff games since ’95, there are two I’ve missed. The first was Game 6 of the 1998 first-round series right here in Edmonton. My grandmother passed away and I went to Massachusetts for the services. The other was Game 4 of the 2008 first-round series with Minnesota. Let’s just say I had some intestinal issues and leave it at that.

I have a credential to cover the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs for Colorado Hockey Now. Yesterday, I boarded a flight from Denver to Vancouver, then took a flight from Vancouver to Edmonton, landing at about 11 p.m. I was in my airbnb just before midnight, courtesy of a friend in the media business who not only drove me straight here from the airport but who also made a nice grocery run for me. I have some good Alberta beef, I have waffles, I have apples and potato chips and mac and cheese, I have Monster energy drinks and I have lots and lots of spaghetti – with red sauce and some white clam sauce. I also have packages of frozen elk, moose and venison. My friend is a “game” specialist, and while I have never, ever tried venison, moose or elk, I will….think about trying it.

Yesterday was, to use one of my new favorite words, dystopian. Denver International Airport had all the activity of one of my book signings many years ago, when I did on at the Tattered Cover for a book I wrote on the Broncos and exactly two people showed up to ask questions to me and former Bronco kicker Jim Turner.

This was the scene near my gate yesterday, at about 3 p.m. in Concourse A:

I’ll tell you what, I was depressed by that scene. I really worry for my city, my state and my country right now. I don’t mean to sound pretentious on that. But seeing such a normally busy, economically important place such as Denver’s airport having a cricket atmosphere makes me worry. Yesterday was the first time I’ve been at DIA since March, when it was packed full of busy, mask-free people.

It was then on to Vancouver, on a small regional jet, and I’d say it was about half full, which was more than I expected based on that scene at the gate earlier. In Vancouver safely, it was then time for the moment of truth: customs.

I got a pretty heavy grilling from the customs agent, a lot of questions about what my purpose was in Canada, how long I’d be staying, where I’d be staying, what my physical condition was, what my temperature was (they had a thing that took it, on your forehead) and they needed to see lots of “credentials”, not just a passport like normal. Finally, however, the customs agent got out her “rubberstamp” device and stamped my customs form as being sufficient to pass.

So this is where I want to say thanks to the NHL for granting me a credential in the first place. My understanding is that a very small number of credentials will be granted to media in the “hub” cities of Edmonton and Toronto, but I got one. I think this is where having covered the Avs and the NHL for 25 years now paid off some for me.

The Vancouver airport is where things got even more dystopian. Other than my flight in from Denver, I did not see ANY gate open in the entire, massive airport. There was NOBODY around. None of the stores and restaurants were open. There was one store open, where they sold sodas and snacks and magazines and stuff like that, but that was IT.

My flight to Vancouver, inside the Air Canada plane cabin, looked like this:

Everybody had their mask on, nobody – nobody – talked to each other. People rarely even looked at each other. That was depressing, too. People just don’t talk to each other anymore. That trend started before the masks, because of cellphones, but it’s gotten worse. I was actually trying to be chatty with people, which is not my normal self. But I didn’t get very far.

Touchdown in Edmonton and on to the Airbnb. Here’s what it looks like:

Bedroom 1:

That bed has a nice, firm mattress, which is what I need as a guy with a horrible back.

That leads me to this: The last few weeks I’ve really been working hard at Pilates, on the Reformer, to help the back. Joe Sakic is the one who actually got me to try it. Don’t forget, Joe’s career was cut short prematurely over a back injury.

My doctor said it’s either that or a fusion surgery that will have only a 60-70% chance of working. For the last few months, I’ve been taking prednisone to ease the pain in the back and hamstrings. The Pilates was helping me get off the steroids. Now, though, I’m cooped up for two weeks. If I’m caught out of this Airbnb – if the Canadian authorities find out I went out, for any reason other than a medical emergency, I risk a six-month jail sentence and/or a $750,000 fine. Canada isn’t $$%%$@%$-ing around with this virus.

So, yeah, I’m probably going to start getting out of shape again. I mean, I can do situps and pushups, but that’s about it.

Here are some other rooms in the Airbnb:

The second bedroom, which now serves as a place to put my luggage (yes, that’s the extent of my luggage. You’d be amazed at how much you can cram into a computer rollerbag. Not a chance in hell I’m ever going to pay to check a bag. Never).

A nice little living room with a TV. No cable, but I got Netflix and some other “channels” I hope to figure out how to access.

I think the artwork of a couple of birds is a nice touch.

My food supply for now:

No doubt some of the local pizza shops or whatever restaurants are on the Postmates list will be getting calls from me during this quarantine. But with some great local friends here, like my media buddy, I feel confident I’ll survive this just fine.

Depending how well the Avs do in the playoffs is how long I’ll be here. If they go all the way to the Cup Finals, I plan on staying. Well, if I can cover all that costs, that is.

Several of you out there have generously donated to the Avalanche Travel Tip Jar for this trip. If you want to donate as well, here is the link. No pressure or anything lol. But I won’t turn it down. (By the way, if you get some kind of “your session has expired” message when you click on that link – as has happened a few times I hear – you can just click on the actual Avs Travel Tip Jar button to the right of where you’re scrolling right now, and it should work just fine. It’s all safe and secure).

I want some “content” ideas from you here. I can’t be with the team for the next 13 days, but I will be in the building when they start playing actual games, starting with the Aug. 2 Western Conference round-robin game with the St. Louis Blues. I will try to do as unique numbers of stuff as I’ve ever done. Also while here: I plan to start a novel I’ve been thinking about writing. Oh, and I also want to direct.

Bottom line: thank you for helping to get me here. I hope to repay you with the best coverage as I possibly can, on the team we all care about.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies. Previously Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report to name just a few.

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gurnblanston

Dater, you could have just stayed at home in your Thornton pad and watched the games on NBC. The fact you did this shows your dedication to your craft and this city. There will be people who deride you for this decision, but I am not one of them. I hope you stay well and are in Edmonton for a long time – Go Avs!

Robert Danisewich

Hello from Edmonton!!! Not many can say that!

[…] The Avalanche playoff quarantine life: Hello from Edmonton  Colorado Hockey Now […]

jsonpinto19

Glad you were able to make the trip AD. Your content is the best and I’m glad the NHL let the best Avs writer in history of the team get in. Enjoy the time there, us fans will appreciate your firsthand insight and analysis. Btw, spray the pan with pam, salt and pepper the venison both sides, lay in pan, sprinkle with panko crumbs, parm cheese (or any cheese really) drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 for 20-25 mins.

Scott Groginsky

So glad you’re there, Adrian. It’s reassuring to know that we’ll benefit from your insightful analyses of the Avs playoff games. Totally agree with you about people becoming less and less connected with each other – even before COVID, though COVID has brought it to a new level. This dynamic has become a major concern for the disintegration of our society. As if talking to a stranger is some kind of offense. I increasingly experience this too and as you say, cell phones are a prime culprit. The great actress and fellow Gen-Xer, Parker Posey, published a really good autobiography… Read more »

Ricardo

OK Dater, I didn’t see much in the way of breakfast type food in the photos. No eggs, no biscotti and no cereal. I really don’t see you as a nonfat yogurt guy. What’s the story? I am looking forward to your reports on hockey and your “increased” exercise program.

Matt Briggle

Glad you got there safe and sound AD, so happy we get your reporting on scene! Elk, venison, and moose are all really good eating, prep and season properly and you got yourself some good grub. You asked for story ideas, and I think you’ve heard this from me before — behind the scenes stuff. I know you’ll never get personal access to any of it, but I can always ask, maybe you’ll get lucky in the time up there and I would love to know how all the equipment is getting managed in this tournament. Yes, i’m an equipment… Read more »

Adrian Dater

Thanks Matt

SoCalAvsFan

Hey AD – I don’t know what sort of “souvenirs” you can get from inside the bubble (maybe a special media guide , anything commemorative etc) that you could raffle off would be really awesome considering this is pretty much a once in a lifetime situation and such a small percent of people will actually get to physically experience it. Just an idea!

Scott

Hope you enjoy your stay in Edmonton. If you’re looking for some decent eats in the city if you get a chance to try Seoul fried chicken it’s pretty darn good! Also be sure to check out the neon signs on 104th if you haven’t yet (right across from Rogers). Also once you’re out of quarantine if you’re looking for a good breakfast/diner rocking Robyn’s in Mayfield has a great breakfast/lunch totally worth the wait if there is one.

Dwayne Hall

I’m still trying to wrap my head around how the Vancouver airport looked. As many times as I’ve been through there, last was this past December, I struggle to think of that place being dead. If the Tim Hortons wasn’t even open, you know they aren’t messing around.

Michael

Hi, Adrian! Was great to read your article, and I really hope you enjoy your time in Edmonton (limited, though activities may be). As far as food delivery goes, https://www.skipthedishes.com/edmonton/restaurants may be one of your best friends for times when you’re looking at your cupboard & scratching your head over what to consume. Not sure on what level of service you’re likely to get, but I know that it’s quite popular here in the southern portion of the province. Not only are there a number of places you might want to check out in your free time post-quarantine like the… Read more »

Panda

Hey Dater, if you need to order food, use the “Skip the Dishes” app.
A few of my favorite places around downtown to order are:

Namaste East Indian (butter chicken Samosa is awesome)
World’s famous donair (donair poutine with sweet sauce)
Smilies Oriental Restaurant (dry ribs, honey garlic ribs)
Western food – Joey’s, Boston Pizza…etc
Rice Bowl Delux (top pick) – Crispy Chicken appetizer, butter chicken rice bowl, dragon roll sushi, basically anything on that menu is good.

Have a good stay in Edmonton! It is an honor for us to have you here as well!

A.A.

Greetings from Edmonton man! Drop me a line if you need suggestions on local takeout/sights/scenes! Anything to make your stay here comfortable, from one hockey fan to another!

Brady Wise

I’m in regina.. I’m a die hard avs fan. If you need some food or beer or hell a playstation let me know.

chippy play

Glad to have you there AD! Apologies if I missed an article on it, but any thoughts yet about who is going to be broadcasting the Avs games in the “opening” round and the first round?

chippy play

Oops, just found the article from a couple of weeks back. Not looking good.

Jon

Nice choice on the miracle whip. Glad to have you on-site, looking forward to the coverage.

[…] This is the closest we’ve gotten to any sort of “official” or substantial update within the organization after Makar mysteriously disappeared mid-way through practice on Saturday.  […]

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