Devils’ Palmieri paints, hopes NHL return in picture
Kyle Palmieri has been trying to keep busy around his Long Island home, doing a lot of painting projects. Walls and ceilings, mostly.
As for a bright picture of the NHL resuming play, the New Jersey Devils forward isn’t sure.
''Hopefully, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel where we’re going to be returning and finishing our regular season,’' Palmieri said Monday in a conference call.
The NHL has not released plans for resuming the season, or even opening team facilities to get players in shape.
The NBA on Monday pushed back the possible reopening date of some team practice facilities for at least a week until May 8 at the earliest.
''I think the biggest challenge is obviously not really knowing if there’s an end or when the end is going to be or if we’re returning to playing or not,’' Palmieri said.
''But right now, I mean, a lot of that’s out of our control. It’s all you can really do is stay at home and try and stay safe and make sure that you’re doing whatever you can to support the people who are out there fighting this disease,’' he said.
Palmieri is one of the Devils’ representatives in the players’ union, along with goaltender Cory Schneider. Palmieri has stayed in touch with the union on a regular basis and relayed information to his teammates.
''You want to keep that banter going and guys are staying in touch and doing whatever we can to make it feel a little more normal,’' the Devils’ leading scorer said.
There have been some reports the NHL might return at some point with with only the top 24 teams finishing a shortened regular season. If that was the case, the Devils (28-29-12) would see their season end.
The Devils have 68 points and 13 games left, and are 13 points out of a wild-card playoff spot.
''I think guys are trying to do their best to keep themselves ready, whether it be 24 teams that get brought back or the entire (league) to finish out the regular season,’' the 29-year-old Palmieri said. ''We just we just don’t know.’'
The last time the Devils gathered as a team was on the morning of March 12, at the Prudential Center in Newark for a pregame workout before hosting the Carolina Hurricanes that night. They never skated.
The rumors that the NHL was going to pause the season were circulating and it wasn’t long before the league put the season on hold because of the virus outbreak.
If the Devils get a chance to play again this season, there will be safety concerns. Players, most of whom have not had access to ice time, will need a training camp to get ready. There also has to be precautions if teams have to travel.
''With what’s going on in the world, it’s a huge factor in it, making sure that everyone’s safe,’' Palmieri said.
Palmieri misses his teammates and playing in the NHL, yet keeps that in perspective.
''But there are people going through a lot worse and fighting for their lives,’' Palmieri said. ''And like I said before, the people on the front line fighting this every day and how how much of a unselfish attitude you have to wake up every day and put yourself and your families at risk in making sure that people are staying healthy. You have to be supportive any way they can.’'