No fun NHL?  Restrictions help players enjoy hockey more

No fun NHL? Restrictions help players enjoy hockey more

Instead of going out to dinner with his fiancée after coming home from training, Brandon Carlo takes his dogs for long walks to get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air.

“It’s good that I can still do these things,” said the Boston defenseman.

NHL players and their families are limited in what they can do this season by coronavirus protocols designed to keep them safe and games on track, and those rules go further than other leagues. There are no NHL approved restaurants to frequent on the road like in the NBA, and players are limited to their home or team hotel and rink except in an emergency, it So there isn’t much to do outside of hockey.

“Hockey is our life for sure,” said Kevin Hayes of Philadelphia. “This is what we are paid for. This is how we make a living. But now that you can’t do anything else, it certainly makes you appreciate it more.

It has never been easier for gamers to say they are doing it for the love of the game, especially as 20% of their paychecks are held in escrow and 10% carried over to future years due loss of income due to the pandemic. Already strict protocols were updated in February to “strongly recommend that household members limit their discretionary activities outside the home” and encourage things like grocery shopping and food delivery to reduce contact with the public.

Restricting some personal freedom, players say, is a good price to pay for earning a six- or seven-figure salary.

“ Much better than bubble life ”

“It’s tough, a little bit, but we’re very lucky to be able to come out on the ice and do what we love to do and work,” said Edmonton captain and league top scorer Connor McDavid. “We don’t forget that.”

It’s still an unnatural existence, confined to the rink and hotel on the road and encouraged not to leave home too much the rest of the time. However, as Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay forward Tyler Johnson noted, “It’s much better than the bubble of life” that was needed to complete the 2020 playoffs.

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Now it’s more of a balancing act for the players, who know what they’re missing and have their eyes on the prize this season.

“You definitely miss the times, especially with new guys, of being able to go out to dinner, have a few drinks and just interact with their spouse, too,” Carlo said. “It’s definitely missed and it’s been a tough adjustment, but for most of the year I feel like we’re pretty connected to hockey and just want to rest when we can. These days it definitely gets longer. “

Calgary captain Mark Giordano said “Trying to find ways to break your day is the number one challenge” this season. Nicklas Backstrom from Washington said activities vary for spending time alone in hotel rooms: “There are video games, movies, stuff like that. You just have to adapt to it, I think, to get it. moment.”

Adjust but don’t complain. McDavid and Giordano said there would be none of this, given the devastation the virus has taken on life and work around the world. And the emphasis on hockey isn’t such a bad thing with so many games packed into a condensed schedule.

“We’re so busy with games every other day so most of the time we’re just trying to get ready for the next one and put your body to rest and recover,” Johnson said. “Even if we could do stuff, I don’t know how many we really would be.”

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