Inside the Stanley Cup Playoff Bubble with Lindsey Gullett
Castleton grad ran event presentation for NHL’s Edmonton Bubble
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - For the past three years, 2012 Castleton grad Lindsey Gullett has embraced the pressure of the big stage. As Event Presentation Manager for the Edmonton Oilers, Gullett is in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly on a gameday for one of the NHL’s most storied teams.
“There’s a little over a million people in Edmonton and the surrounding area,” Gullett said. “I would say even a good chunk of this part of the country is all focusing on a lot of what the Edmonton Oilers are doing. Especially with stars like Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid in our market. In a way, I try not to think about it, I just try and go about my business.”
But last Spring, like most of us, Gullett wasn’t able to continue going about his business. The NHL shut down its season in March due to COVID concerns, and spent the next two and a half months figuring out if and and how they could return. For most gameday operations crews, their season was over...but not for Gullett and the Oilers.
“The list came out with the 10 cities across the league that were still in play,” Gullett said of playoff hosting duties. “I knew that our executive team were still putting their bid together and trying to figure out. And it was kind of one of those things where we’re putting our best foot forward, and if it works for the league, I guess it works for the league.”
As it turned out, it worked for the league. Rogers Place in Edmonton was selected to host the NHL’s Western Conference playoff bubble.
“We were actually road tripping at that point back home to Manitoba to my parents’ and email just started going, just flooded and it was like, ‘Oh boy, something’s going on,’” Gullett said. “So we spent most of that time at my parents’ farm on my laptop unfortunately but it was still a little bit of an excitement to be like, ‘Hey, when I get home, this is gonna be happening.’”
It’s hard enough to coordinate the video board and goal songs and entrances for the Oilers, but Gullett and his crew were all of a sudden tasked with making twelve different teams feel at home.
“The league is saying, ‘Here’s Dallas’ stuff, here’s Calgary’s stuff, here’s Nashville’s stuff,’” Gullett said. “And you’re like, ‘...Ok.’ And then you start looking at like, ‘How do they do it?’ We went as far as watching film on like how do the Vegas Golden Knights exactly come on the ice? When is this song started, when does Marc-Andre Fleury start walking down that tunnel or Robin Lehner. It was something that myself and I know our team, our venue, we all took a lot of pride in because we understood what we had on us with the opportunity and we all wanted to do the best for those organizations because we knew we would want them to do that for us.”
And if that wasn’t enough, Edmonton added two Eastern teams late in the game as the site of both conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final.
“When we added Tampa, they had a ton of elements,” Gullett said. “Adding them that late, it was just like, ‘What are we doing? We feel like we forgot how we do this!’ But we picked up on them pretty quick. At the end of the day it was I think 81 games in 65 days and it was an absolute marathon. But getting to award the Stanley Cup to Tampa was just something I’ll honestly never forget.”
Gullett got a little bit of a breather, but over the holidays was hard at work for another bubble tournament in Edmonton: the World Juniors.
“It definitely feels different than when we were doing the NHL bubble, knowing that the window is two and a half weeks or something versus two and a half months,” he said. “Just making sure that everything’s accounted for and all the little things from pronunciation of the Finnish and Swedish and Russian rosters and things like that to the music that’s getting played when teams are introduced.”
With the exception of the no fan aspect, things will be back to somewhat normal Wednesday night at Rogers Place as the Oilers host Vancouver to open their 2021 campaign, but don’t expect things to calm down for Gullett any time soon.
“We’re supposed to have a baby the same day as the start date so that’ll get interesting really quick,” he said. “But I think the biggest thing will just be getting back to the formula of having one game in a day. It’ll be nice to give some love straight back to just our team again for a while.”
And maybe this season, this Castleton grad will get to present the Cup to his own team.
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