Ready or not, here they come.
It’s not often the first two questions asked of a hockey player in mid-July are: “How was the first day or training camp?” And: “How ready are you for your first-round playoff series in two weeks?”
But these are strange times we’re living in, so the Edmonton Oilers have no choice but to do what the rest of planet Earth is doing — find a way to survive in the new normal.
“It’s not just athletes, it’s the whole world, everybody in the world is out of their comfort zone right now,” said Oilers winger Zack Kassian, after Day 1 of Phase 3 in the NHL’s return-to-play strategy. “It’s not normal by any means.”
No it is not. But all of the players on the ice at Rogers Place on Monday seem more excited about the opportunity than concerned about the drawbacks, hurdles and potential risks involved with returning to action in the middle of a pandemic.
“You don’t know how it’s going to go, but everybody was excited to get back, coaches included,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett, who ran a 40-minute practice followed by a flood and a scrimmage Monday.
“I was very, very pleased with Day 1 — the motivation and enthusiasm and their ability to get out there and get to work with a smile on your face.
“We have to go from a long break to playoff speed in a couple of weeks, but I think we have a very motivated team, a team that’s anxious to get back.”