I was a superstar in the National Hockey League who was also claustrophobic. Since the middle of March I had been in basic isolation to prevent infection and waited for the starting of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The months passed by with great uncertainty. Rumors of the season being canceled were rampant. I was stuck at home in my condo. I played video games until my hands cramped. I would sneak out at night to go for walks and other times I would drive the streets wondering about my future. I was lonely for love and drove by multiple massage parlors but they were all closed for covid-19. But I had connections with a dude named Cam. I gave Cam a call and within minutes there was a girl at my door.
Then came the call to report to training camp and fly out to Edmonton which was a hub city. I hated the city and considered it a dump. But I was there to play hockey and not to rip it up. I had not told anyone about my depression from isolation during covid or from my claustrophobia. I was on a team that was expected to win the Stanley Cup which meant the possibility of being in the isolation bubble for several months. Deep down I wished that they would cancel the season, but the NHL wanted money and the Stanley Cup playoffs were the way they were going to get it.
I arrived to Edmonton for the beginning of the round robin format which would determine seeding for the playoffs. We would have a few practices and one exhibition game and then we would go straight into the play in round. I still couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I could be in the bubble for over two months, just living in a hotel room, with no way out. I started to feel anxious and sick to my stomach. I wanted out but couldn't let down my teammates so I made the resolve that I would stick it out.
My team played their only exhibition game and lost. In the round robin we won two and lost one but I came under heavy social media fire for my poor performance, but we were in the playoffs so what did I really care. I hated the bubble. I had been it for less than two weeks but it felt like two lifetimes. I needed a way out but couldn't leave the bubble premises as security was tight. Maybe I could break a window and rappel down the hotel wall from the 25th floor.
The first was a best of seven against an opponent that played a suffocating defensive style. We lost the first game 3-1 in a lack luster performance. Game two was the next night and we lost 1-0 in overtime. They heat from the media was intensifying my claustrophobia, I needed to go for walk outside in the bush like I did back home when things were going bad, but that was not to be. Game three was another loss, but this time we had a two goal lead and lost 4-2.
Ahhhhhh! One more loss and I'll be out of this god forsaken bubble. In game 4 we went down 3-0 going into the third but we came back to win 4-3 with three seconds left in the game. So close to going home. So close to being knocked out and having freedom to leave this bubble. But I was trapped again for another game, I hoped we would lose. I couldn't take it anymore.
Game five we won easily with a 5-1 victory. The whole team seemed happy but me. Why did I have to score three goals? Dammit. The media said we were going to come back and win the series. No that's not what I wanted, I want to lose.
In game six we were tied the game 2-2 with one second left. Why did this have to happen? Okay we still have a chance to lose in overtime. Maybe I will intentionally score on my own net, but if I did I would never see the light of another NHL day. I acted pumped up like I really wanted to win but I wanted to lose so bad. We scored 49 second into overtime to win. I broke down and cried. Everyone thought from happiness, but it was mental anguish and sadness for not losing.
The night before I thought about faking symptoms of covid 19, but they would be able to test me or they would hold back the game until everyone was tested. That was no use. Maybe I could fake an injury. I mentioned that as a joke, but what injury would that be on such short notice just hours before the game. Should I just say I needed out like some others players did. I couldn't do that. It would be suspicious as I was already under suspicion from my coach and other teammates for trying to injure our goalie in practice by hitting him in the head with a shot.
We ended winning game seven in the triple overtime. Nooooo! Why is this happening. Another round, a minimum of four games. This can't be possible. Okay just stay calm. I can think of a way to lose, but not four games. We swept the series winning four straight. And now we had to wait for the next series that went to game five then six. Dammit. Why are they taking so long, can't someone just lose. What's so hard about that. Finally we got our opponent after their series going seven.
The next round, we swept our opponent. We were going to the Stanley Cup finals. We still had a chance to lose, only one more chance to lose. I can see that light at the end of the tunnel. Again we had to wait seven games to find out our opponent.
We took a three games to nothing lead in the Stanley Cup finals. And in game four we were up 2-0 with one minute left and they scored twice and then won in overtime. Yes! Only three more games to lose. They won the next two games so we were tied at three games a piece. Oh yes! One more loss and we are finally out of this inhumane bubble. What are we rats in an experiment. I mean we're humans dammit. I know we make millions, but does that not mean we deserve some dignity and respect.
Game seven. I was ready to crack. Only one more game to lose and it was bye bye Edmonton. We were up 3-0 going into the third and fortunately they tied it up and we went to overtime. We had to let them win so we could leave the bubble. But then in the last minute of the overtime I scored and we won the Stanley Cup. But I didn't care, all I wanted was to lose to get out of the bubble, don't you understand. Is that too much to ask for?
I won the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP. No I don't want this. Now you want me to hold the Stanley Cup. No! No! No! Only if we could of lost so I could get out of this God damn bubble. God help me! Please burst this bubble! They hauled me away in an ambulance for over excited nerves. My teammates went home and that's when the doctor said I had to isolate for another 14 days before I could leave the hospital...