No one is being spared, not even professional hockey players.
These people have the same concerns as everybody else about the state of the world right now.
That was evident in Thursday’s NHL conference call with Flyers captain Claude Giroux, Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby, New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal and Carolina center Jordan Staal.
All these top competitors were pretty much in concert with their thoughts about being forced to stay at home during the COVID-19 crisis along with the ramifications of not being able to play their sport right now.
Plus the uncertainty of what lies ahead.
Giroux said he’s trying to stay in shape by way of a stationary bike in his basement at his home in Ottawa.
He’s also cautiously optimistic about the sport’s immediate future, hopeful that perhaps if/when hockey does return, the suspended season could possibly resume with a handful of regular-season games followed by playoffs.
But above all else, Giroux, along with the other three players, emphasized that health and safety come first.
“I’m just spending time here with the family,’’ Giroux said. “I haven’t left the house in a few days. I’m just trying to stay busy.’’
Basically nearly all NHL players have returned to their home cities. And with rinks closed, they’ve had to do mostly “dryland’’ training such as running and weights.
The lack of a possible return date has impact on how players go about their fitness regimen.
“Mentally not knowing if we come back or when we come back. . .I have that bike in my basement,’’ Giroux said. “That’s pretty much it. I’m kind of doing the old school workouts, doing pushups and sprints.
“I’m just trying to stay busy but it’s tough when you don’t have the equipment for it.’’
Giroux was asked about his personal frustration level over the stoppage just when the Flyers were hitting their stride. A 9-1 run had left them just one point behind Metropolitan Division leader Washington when things came to a screeching halt.
“Yeah, obviously a little bit,’’ Giroux responded. “We were playing some good hockey and we were in a good position to go into the playoffs.
“I’ve been thinking everyday about when we’re going to come back, if we come back, and what the possibilities are going to be. You think about it but you don’t want to overthink it.
“As much as it’s frustrating, I think you have to stay optimistic here.’’
The NHL has made it clear it wants to award a Stanley Cup for this season. The question is, how to squeeze it into what seems to be an ever-closing window of time.
“It’s hard to tell but I think it would be good to get a few games before playoffs,’’ Giroux said. “Especially for teams that are fighting for a spot in. You want to give everybody a fair chance.
“Whatever’s fairest; I think everyone would accept that.’’
As for what we can expect when hockey does return, Giroux wasn’t sure. Chemistry is a big part of the game and if the players are forced to sit for a long period of time, it might take a while for bonding to come back.
“It depends on how long the training camp is, if we have one,’’ Giroux said. “I mean right now, everything is unknown. So it’s kind of hard to answer that question.’’
All four players said they understand the gravity of the situation.
“You’ve seen what’s happened overseas,’’ Giroux said. “I think it got really bad really quick and now slowly it’s getting over here. Just trying to stay informed as much as possible.
“Here in Ottawa everyone’s kind of staying home. No one’s going anywhere. I think everyone’s buying into what every country is trying to do. Hopefully it gets better soon.’’
Following procedure is the key to getting past this once-in-a-lifetime challenge.
“I think early on a lot of people weren’t taking this seriously,’’ Giroux said. “You can see the last few weeks everyone is making sure they stay home, everybody does the right thing. If we keep doing that, I think we’re going in the right direction.
“There’s a lot of unknown. You just have to do your part.’’
The players have been taking part in internet conferencing.
“We have a busy group chat,’’ Giroux said. “Everyone kind of gets involved. We did a group Facetime the other day and it didn’t go very well. Everybody started screaming at each other. We’re just trying to keep the group chat going, stay busy with that.’’
There were some lighter moments in the conference call. Each player was asked which teammate he would pick if he had to choose one to self-quarantine with.
Giroux paused and decided on Michael Raffl.
“It’s never boring with him,’’ Giroux said. “He’s always entertaining and would definitely keep me busy.’’
And then are the video games.
“I bought an X-Box a couple days ago,’’ Giroux said. “I played Scott Laughton and I lost twice, so I really haven’t picked it up again. Offense is hurting right now.’’
The topic of what he doesn’t miss about hockey came up.
“Jordan and Sid cheat so much in faceoffs, I don’t miss that,’’ Giroux said with a chuckle.
To which Crosby replied: “That’s funny, I was going to say the same thing about you.’’
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