The disruption to the NHL season because of the coronavirus has affected more than just the postseason. For Lars Eller, it will mean having to leave the team in order to be with his family for the birth of his second child.
The 2020 postseason is scheduled to begin Aug. 1. Eller's wife is due on Aug. 8, the same day as the Capitals' third round robin game. Obviously that means unless she delivers early, the baby will be born after Eller has left for Toronto.
Eller, however, expressed Tuesday that he intends to be with his family when the baby is born.
"We're working on making the necessary arrangements so I can be for the birth and come back to the bubble after that," Eller said.
When the whole point of the bubble is to isolate the players and limit their contact with the outside world in order to keep them from contracting the coronavirus, obviously this will present some challenges.
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Eller, however, is hardly the only player who is facing this dilemma. The season pause means several players who thought they were going to have an offseason baby now will be having their new additions during the postseason. While the NHL and NHL Players' Association were negotiating the health and safety protocols for the league's return to play plan, family access became one of the major talking points. It's hard to maintain a bubble if you also allow family members in, but players did not want to be away from their families for several months. Certain rules were written in that would allow players to leave the bubble and return if necessary and those are the rules Eller is now trying to figure out so he can rejoin the team after his baby is born.
"You're going to have to take a lot of precautions for when you leave," Eller said. "Depending on how you travel and you travel back and forth and who you're going to be in contact with and so on, I'll have to serve some time inside the bubble and test a number of times before I can join my teammates again and play games. We're working on trying to figure out how we do that the best possible way."
Players did have the option of opting out of the playoffs, but Eller elected not to take that option. For him, trying to win a second Stanley Cup is still a priority, it's just not more important than his family.
"We're going to have a new addition to our family here in a couple weeks," Eller said. "I don't know when it's going to happen, but it's going to happen. But at the same time, I want to be with my team and also committed to that and want to win another Cup."
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