Alex Ovechkin feels the same way most hockey fans do during this pause in the NHL season. He is thankful for the time at home, he is thankful for the time he gets to spend with his family, but he is also bored. After two weeks without hockey, Ovechkin is bored of the limbo the current season is now in.
“Me and my family in Washington, staying home, keeping busy,” Ovechkin told reporters on a video conference Thursday. “Lots of stuff to do at house. Play with the little one, we're expecting another one in a couple of months, I'm trying to do some more workout as well, but it's getting boring obviously. First week was kind of good thing. We're relaxing, we chilling and right now it's kind of getting boring right now.”
With the spread of the coronavirus, the NHL elected to pause the regular season on March 12. With 13 games remaining in the Capitals’ regular season, no one knows if and when the season will resume or what things will look like when it does. That means Ovechkin has to prepare like he is getting ready to continue the season or to start the playoffs and he has to do it with no definitive date for when that could happen.
To make matters worse, during this pause, players have lost access to their team’s workout facilities. Most gyms have also been shut down leaving some players having to get creative with how to stay in shape. New York Islanders captain, Anders Lee, who was also on the video conference, said he bought a Peleton bike and goes jogging with his dogs.
For Ovechkin, the timing of the league’s pause worked out well for him as his personal trainer, Pavel Burlachenko, was already in town for the playoff push.
“Last couple years before the playoffs, my personal trainer came to Washington and start workout with me before the playoffs to get ready for that period of the season,” Ovechkin said. “But with this situation, like he is here and I am lucky enough to have him here and we do some workout at the gym in my house. I have a small gym and we just go run on the street and play some soccer, ride the bike and just try to get busy, you know?”
The coronavirus has brought many unique challenges to professional athletes, but one of them is the fact that players are now left to keep in shape and work out on their own despite technically being in the middle of the season. The players cannot come together as a team to push one another. In that sense, having his trainer with him in Washington is invaluable to Ovechkin.
“You get used to being with the team, working out with the team all year and right now you are kind of by yourself and it is kind of hard to push yourself through that mode,” Ovechkin said, “Like you have to do that thing or a different thing. It is kind of hard. Somebody has to not push you, but to do all that stuff so he’s with me and sometimes I don’t want to do it but he says, ‘OK let’s go, we have to work out.’”
Players need that extra motivation at this point. The uncertainty of the coronavirus means no one is sure when they could return or what they are preparing for.
“It is always a good time to sit on the couch and watch TV and play with the kid,” Ovechkin said, “But you never know when the season is coming back and you have to be in shape, so again, try to do my best.”
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