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Stars wait in bubble for Stanley Cup opponent

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Blake Comeau and the Dallas Stars knew there would be the huge sacrifice of being away from their families once inside the NHL bubble, and those absences have only been amplified by monotonous gaps with little to do between playing games pretty much every other day.

“We said from the start of it, the way to make it worthwhile was coming home with the Stanley Cup,” Comeau said Wednesday.

After 8 ½ weeks in Edmonton, Alberta, while staying in a hotel connected to the arena where they play, the Stars are now waiting to find out if they will play Tampa Bay or the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Final.

“There’s no other place we’d rather be, especially now that we’re in the finals, than right here,” interim head coach Rick Bowness said. “Is this easy living? Absolutely not. … We’re all making the best of it.”

Still, the Western Conference champions wish their families could be with them to share in the playoff run — an experience taken away because of the lingering pandemic.

Whether it’s a player like Comeau, in his 14th NHL season with his sixth team and in his first Stanley Cup Final. Or the 65-year-old Bowness, an NHL coach in parts of five different decades and now in his first Stanley Cup as a head coach.

“That’s probably one of the toughest parts,” Comeau said. “You’d love to have your family here to celebrate with you, but we don’t. So hopefully we can win the Stanley Cup and we can celebrate after. “

There have been lots of phone calls and FaceTime chats with family, but the Stars as a group have also gotten encouragement for home. Bowness said the wives, kids and other family members of players and staff were asked to send in personal video messages that have been shared with the entire team.

“When we’re all sitting together, you miss your family, but it’s a reminder, ‘OK, we’re making unreal sacrifices here.’ Every night we’re looking at those, and they are personal,” Bowness said. “It also keeps their families involved and makes them feel part of it. … It’s important that we make them feel part of what we’re doing, because we know the sacrifices they’re making for us.”

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