By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88
To say that this year so far has been tough would be an understatement, however, things are starting to slowly return. The general public (for the most part) are being careful, being mindful, and some are heading back to work. How this virus has affected almost every aspect of regular life has been overwhelming to say the least. While things screeched to a halt in the world of sports, a glimmer of hope arose when it was announced that the NHL and NHLPA ratified a four-year extension to the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) and more excitedly a Return to Play Plan. That’s right folks…hockey’s back.
KEEPING IT REAL
While there has been multiple discussions on the well-being of players, testing, and imposing restrictions while in the hub cities, the fact that the NHL is returning brings about a start of normalcy when it comes to sports. For some, its a welcome distraction. For the Boston Bruins, it’ll be a chance to finish what they started.
For the team, returning to the ice will keep things in perceptive. Fans were treated to the first pictures of returning familiar faces during the start of voluntary workouts a few weeks ago. And as much as it was a great step forward, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic still lurks in the minds of the players:
” I think its a very serious matter. As much as we do want to play, we realize that there are more important things in life, and you have to make sure that other things fall into place first…you watch the news and see how serious this whole situation is…I think the league and the team are taking all the right measures to have players stay as healthy as possible, and staff coming to the rink, keeping them in mind”Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk
The players are practicing carefully, skating in small groups as they continue to adhere to protocols set in place by the league. As they shake out the rust (they haven’t played since March) the team, according to Bruins President Cam Neely are ready to move forward:
“I think our guys recognize that we had a legitimate chance to do well and have a deep run in the playoffs…our goal all along is to win the Stanley Cup. That goal is not going to change. From what I understand, talking to some of the guys, they’re anxious and excited.”
BACK IN THE SADDLE
As most of the team returns to Boston, adjusting back to the physical and mental part of the game will be amongst the hurdles to overcome. While many were able to get in some workouts to stay in shape, skating wasn’t an option as restrictions forced rinks to stay closed. Not knowing when or if the season would return also effected every team in the league. As Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom recently said:
“What I can do is trust that our team, the Boston Bruins, and the NHLPA and the league and all the doctors are taking all the precautions and making sure that we’re gonna be safe as possible.”
The Bruins concluded the second phase of voluntary workouts at Warrior Ice that saw Brandon Carlo, Andres Bjork, Connor Clifton, Jake Debrusk, David Krecji, Karson Kuhlman, Joakim Nordstrom, Nick Ritchie, Jeremy Lauzon, Zach Senyshyn and Max Lagace lace their skates up. Training Camp is set to start on Monday, July 13th and will see the Bruins head north of border into Toronto towards the end of this month.
After having a few months to rest and recharge, the Boston Bruins are hoping to be back in winning form as they face the Philadelphia Flyers in their first Round-Robin game. At the abrupt conclusion of the season in their last game, Boston defeated Philly 2-0. Getting back to work amidst the unknowns will be challenging, as Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy remarked:
“The message for us hasn’t changed in terms of what our ultimate goal is, our unfinished business is to be Stanley Cup champions…but inside of that message will be a lot of the unknowns and how we have to be prepared to deal with that as it comes at us, which can difficult because we don’t know how its gonna work out for players’ families yet..the mental toughness part is gonna determine who ends up raising that trophy at the end of the day. That’s where I like our chances.”
While other sports leagues have had key players opt out of playing due to safety concerns, the team as a whole are ready get back on the ice. With the very recent announcement of the roster that’s heading to Toronto, the Bruins will continue to adhere to strict protocols. The league has worked hard in reaching an agreement while addressing the risks of the virus. Daily testing will be the new normal for every team living in the secure “bubble” as well as temperature and symptoms checks.
This year will certainly be one for the history books and while so many in this country continue to work through daily life cautiously, seeing the boys back in Black and Gold will feel pretty damn nice.
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