Duncan-born Philadelphia Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh works with Carter Hart during a practice session. (Philadelphia Flyers photo)

Duncan-born Philadelphia Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh works with Carter Hart during a practice session. (Philadelphia Flyers photo)

Cowichan’s Dillabaugh checks in from the NHL bubble in Toronto

Flyers’ Duncan-born goalie coach weighs in on hockey restart

It’s different, being inside the “bubble” for the National Hockey League playoffs, Kim Dillabaugh admits, but he’s impressed with how well the situation has been structured.

“They’ve done a pretty good job of coordinating as much as they can,” said the Duncan-born goalie coach for the Philadelphia Flyers. “It could be a lot worse. No complaints.

“Obviously you’re confined to certain areas. That’s what they have to do to make it work.”

The NHL’s bubble format, which has proven extremely successful so far, without a single positive test for COVID-19, restricts teams to their hotels and one arena in each hub city. Playing in Toronto, the Flyers also have access to BMO Field for outdoor training purposes.

Dillabaugh grew up in the Cowichan Valley before embarking on a major junior hockey career. He later coached with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets and worked in goaltender development for the Los Angeles Kings before becoming the Flyer’s full-time goalie coach in 2015.

This is Dillabaugh’s third trip to the playoffs with the Flyers. The team earned a bye through the qualifying round by virtue of having the fourth-best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference, then earned the top seed in the first round by sweeping three games in a round robin between the top four teams in the conference over the first week of August.

The Flyers arrived in Toronto and entered the bubble on July 26, playing their first exhibition game on July 28 and starting round-robin play on Aug. 1. Dillabaugh’s team has been among the most successful in the early going. The Flyers’ next test will be a best-of-seven series against the Montreal Canadiens starting on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

“You never know what to expect coming off a lengthy layoff when not a lot of guys have had access to ice or have been limited in what they’ve had in terms of equipment for training,” he said. “But they got back in sync and got off to a great start. Hopefully they can build off that as we get ready for Montreal.”

Philadelphia goalies Carter Hart and Brian Elliott have been big parts of the team’s early success. They split work in the exhibition game, a 3-2 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and combined to stop 73 of 76 saves in the three round-robin wins.

“Obviously the guys in front have done a good job of limiting the quality of work they’ve seen,” Dillabaugh said. “The goal is obviously to use this as a jumping point for hopefully a long playoff run.”

For Dillabaugh, being in the bubble means being away from his family: his wife Bonnie, also from Duncan, and his nine-year-old-daughter and three-year-old son.

“It’s tough,” he acknowledged. “Any time you’re away from your family for an extended period of time, it’s challenging for sure.”

It helps to be able to connect via FaceTime every day.

“They understand it’s a unique situation, a unique time,” Dillabaugh said. “And we’re making the best of it.”

The Dillabaughs maximized their time together during the layoff, knowing that they might end up separated for a lengthy period if the NHL season did resume in a bubble. They did consider coming back to the Cowichan Valley, but opted to stay in south New Jersey, where they live during the season.

Holding the playoffs without fans is a unique situation, and Dillabaugh admitted that it does trickle into the sport itself, as the players miss the crowds and the momentum that it brings. Generally, though it is business as usual once the puck drops.

“These are competitive athletes,” Dillabaugh pointed out. “They want to win; they want to have success. That will continue as teams move through the playoffs and on to their ultimate goal.”

The closest comparison to the bubble that Dillabaugh can come up with was the 2019 World Championships in Slovakia, which he attended with Team Canada, where teams did share hotels and crossed paths from time to time. As strange as it may be, Dillabaugh remains impressed with what the NHL was able to create.

“I’ve been in the playoffs before, but this is the first time seeing this,” he said. “They had a short time frame to come up with something safe for everybody. That was front and centre, to create an environment where everybody feels safe.”

NHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Victoria Hospice staff Brianne Ohl, left, Angela Chalmers, right, and Sandi Ogloff, at back, show off their buttons that show a picture of them smiling. Staff has worked hard to maintain the connections with patients despite the barriers of PPE and rigid COVID-19 protocols. (Victoria Hospice Photo)
Hospice provides compassion in a time of COVID

Victoria Hospice 40th anniversary on pause during pandemic

Sidney has moved the remaining parts of its public consultation phase part of the Official Community Plan online. (Black Press Media File)
Sidney moves to an ‘all online engagement’ process for OCP

Staff says OCP charrette scheduled for mid-February

Look for the Random Act of Kindness Day colouring contest in Black Press issues Jan. 17. Physical entries can be mailed or dropped off to local Black Press offices. A scanned or photographed entry can be emailed to info@victoriafoundation.bc.ca. Winning entries can get a $50 gift card to Bolen Books and a $100 donation to a charity of their choice from the VIctoria Foundation. (Pixabay)
Colouring contest coming for Kindness Day

Kindness Day colouring contest in partnership with Victoria Foundation

(File photo)
‘Very lucky’: Two passengers, dog escape rollover crash in Saanich unscathed

Vehicle flips on Trans Canada Highway after hitting median, possibly due to ice, firefighter says

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Most Read