It’s unclear when, or if, the 2019-20 NHL season will resume.
But if it does, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask expects to be ready whenever for whatever.
The NHL, like most every other sports league across the world, is on pause amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While the league reportedly is considering all sorts of ideas — a 24-team playoff being the most recent plan — it’s no guarantee they are able to come back.
But with the pause now nearing two months, in some respects it’s beginning to feel like a typical offseason. The obvious difference is that most guys currently can’t skate like they’d be able to during the offseason, but in terms of time frame it is similar.
Rask indicated during a conference call with the media Monday that he’s just taking all the uncertainty in stride.
“It?s the same for everybody, it?s uncertain times in the whole world now, and I don?t think it?s any different for sports, so we just kind of have to play it out as it happens,” Rask said. “Obviously it would be way different than what we?re used to, but I don?t think it would make a huge difference. I think the fact that we were on a great run before he season was on a pause and we had a good feeling finishing off the season and going into the playoffs, that?s out of the door now. Our challenge is how can we recapture that if we start playing ? individually and collectively. I?m not worried about it, like I said it?s going to be the same for everybody, but it?ll be super interesting to see how it all plays out if we start playing and practicing.
“But once we get into small group workouts and whatnot and then get the ball rolling from there, I?m sure everybody starts feeling comfortable playing hockey again and then whatever kind of season we have it?ll just be hockey like it used to be for us, and for fans I know they?ve missed it, so it?ll be good for them to watch it.”
Because of the unpredictability of the coronavirus, nobody really knows, or can provide a truly educated guess, about when teams might be able start playing again.
But that uncertainty isn’t fazing Rask.
“I haven?t stressed about that at all,” Rask said. “For me, I like to stay active and try to keep somewhat of a routine daily to keep yourself active. I?ve been going for walks and jogs and working out and waking up early, so I think that helps, but I haven?t thought about any date we can start playing because nobody knows. And I think for me that just saves my energy, because if you start thinking about ?Oh we might start playing then or then? you?re just wasting energy. And it?s not good for me, at least.
“And then having a few kids at home here definitely keeps you busy and keeps your head outside of hockey pretty easily. So I haven?t stressed about playing hockey at all, I?ve been just trying to stay mobile and keep myself in somewhat shape, and if we start ramping things up I?ll be ready for it. But definitely trying to take this time and give yourself the mental break that you necessarily didn?t have last year.”
If games do resume, it’s a near guarantee that they’ll be played without fans.
Given the way the Bruins have played this season, there’s a legitimate chance they could end up hoisting the Stanley Cup if the season does start back up. Doing so without fans undoubtedly would be weird, but Rask is trying to employ a glass half full approach.
“Well, that?s a tough question to answer,” Rask said. “I guess it definitely would be different, but then again that?s the closest group you have accomplished the goal out there with you, so then I think it also would be pretty awesome. There would be no extra hassle, it would just be your teammates, because whenever you win something like that there?s the video crews, the fans, the media and everybody gets ripped in a different direction and you can?t really be together as a group.
“So I guess in this situation you would just be with your teammates and you would be able to celebrate even more. So, different with no fans obviously, but I guess I try to be a glass half full type of guy, so I say it would be pretty cool.”