Early returns: NHL players on getting back in small groups during Phase 2
As of Tuesday, we’re two days into Phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan. To put things mildly, not every NHL team has approached Phase 2 in the same way. Considering the protocols for opening things up, plenty haven’t gotten the puck rolling just yet.
This post aims to round up some of the perspectives from players who have gotten the chance to get back a bit, though. Please note that this isn’t a comprehensive list of every team back in action for Phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan.
Matt Benning on the Oilers skating
One curious question is: how long does it take to shake off the rust. Considering that the NHL is still trying to hash out details for training camps (aka Phase 3), the answer appears subjective.
“If I’m off the ice for two days, it feels like I’ve never skated in my life before, so three months was a little bit nerve-wracking ...” Oilers defenseman Matt Benning said.
Benning noted that it takes different players different amounts of time to get used to edgework and other skating factors. But it sounds like Benning specifically sits in the “more the merrier” camp. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
If you need a moment of zen, enjoy this footage of the Oilers beginning Phase 2:
Tavares doing Tavares things early in NHL Phase 2
Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares is known for being something of a thinking man’s hockey star. Sometimes that drive can manifest itself in ways that are ... honestly, kind of nerdy.
Tavares told reporters including TSN’s Karen Shilton that he quickly decided to start taping his sticks at home to get the most out of his time.
“There’s a pretty big-time crunch on being in the arena; you only have about 45 minutes to an hour to complete your workout and you’ve got about 40 minutes on the ice,” Tavares said. “The windows are fairly small, but the actual work we’re able to get in is going to go a long way in helping us prepare and get ready. The intensity is there.”
Shilton notes that Tavares is skating in a group with Jack Campbell, Cody Ceci, Mitch Marner, Ilya Mikheyev, and Jake Muzzin.
Josh Bailey among Islanders getting back to skating at facility
Bailey joined Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin, and Thomas Greiss for small-group workouts. Bailey admitted feeling some rust, and that there’s no substitute for skating.
There’s also no substitute for family. Bailey acknowledged that the “hub city” system will take some getting used to. At least he’d have his Islanders teammates, though.
“It’ll definitely be different,” Bailey said, via Cory Wright of the Islanders’ website. “No matter how it all comes together, when, how, if, whatever the case may be. It won’t be what we are accustomed to. But when you’re with the team it kind of gives you that feeling of normalcy.”
Plenty still needs to be settled before NHL goes from Phase 2 to Phase 3
Overall, the Phase 2 return to ice seems more like a trickle than a stampede.
For every instance such as Marc-Andre Fleury getting geared up with the Golden Knights, there are players who want to avoid taking risks, or teams facing restrictions.
In some cases, players are able to skate on their own. During an appearance on “Lunch Talk Live,” Blake Wheeler explained that he’s been able to get some reps in with Adam Oates in the Boca Raton area in Florida.
MORE NHL RETURN TO PLAY:
- League clears up 2020 NHL Playoffs picture
- A look at the Eastern Conference matchups
- A look at the Western Conference matchups
- Final standings for 2019-20 NHL season, NHL draft odds