Jordan Staal

Hurricanes back at PNC Arena as voluntary training sessions begin

Members of the Carolina Hurricanes have returned to their home ice at PNC Arena as the team began voluntary training sessions amid the second phase of the NHL’s return plan.

In a video conference with reporters, captain Jordan Staal said the players went through safety protocols that included wearing a mask and getting a temperature check when arriving at the arena, as well as “keeping your distance as best you can.”

The team had announced last week that roughly 16 players were expected to participate, divided into two groups, with workouts closed to the public and media.

Staal said the goal was “feeling the ice again” while running some drills. The team hasn’t specified which players were scheduled to participate in Tuesday’s sessions, though Staal said his group included All-Star defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

Hamilton broke his left leg in January, but the team has said he should be ready to go if the season resumes.

“Hopefully we can get through this Phase 2 and 3 unscathed, and get in the bubble and go from there,” Staal said.

Training camps may open as early as July 10 if an agreement between the league and players on virus testing, health and safety protocols, and “hub” cities to host the games can be reached.

NBCSN’s Stanley Cup Final Week: Remembering 2009 Penguins-Red Wings

Getty Images

NBC Sports presents Stanley Cup Final Week on NBCSN, reliving classic Stanley Cup Final games and original films and shows from the past decade across seven nights, beginning on Monday, June 8. Today, we give our favorite memories from the the 2009 Cup Final between the Penguins and Red Wings.

JAKE: The obvious choice is the sprawling save by Marc-Andre Fleury to clinch Pittsburgh’s Game 7 win, thereby denying Detroit the chance to win a second straight Stanley Cup.

The outcome was especially painful for one Red Wings player: Marian Hossa. And he’s who I’d like to focus on here.

In the summer of 2008, Marian Hossa had played nine full NHL seasons, made the playoffs eight times, and most recently scored 26 points in 20 playoff games for Pittsburgh in their eventual Stanley Cup Final loss to Detroit. That was the closest he had come to winning the Cup.

Facing unrestricted free agency, he turned down a long-term offer from the Penguins and instead signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings, believing he had a better chance to win in Hockeytown.

Fast forward to the 2009 Cup Final, where Hossa found himself in exactly the position he had hoped. But the dream ending was not meant to be, and Hossa struggled against his former mates scoring zero goals on 23 shots during the seven-game series. Two straight Cup Final trips, and two straight defeats.

Of course, Hossa then signed with Chicago, and finally hoisted Lord Stanley the very next year. And then two more times after that. So we won’t lose too much sleep over his poor fortune in 2008 and 2009.

[FULL NBCSN STANLEY CUP WEEK SCHEDULE]

SEAN: I remember being behind the Penguins’ goal at Mellon Arena with a clear view of this play. Down 2-1 in the series, Pittsburgh needed to win Game 4 in order to not go back to Joe Louis Arena and lose the Cup Final for a second year in a row to the Red Wings.

Detroit was on the power play leading 2-1 in the second period. That’s when Jordan Staal took a pass in the neutral zone and strong-armed his way around Brian Rafalski for a shorthanded goal.

The roar from inside the Igloo was massive. It was a turning point in the game as Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy would make it 4-2 with goals in the next six minutes.

Game 5 was a disaster for the Penguins, but they got their revenge on Detroit with a pair of 2-1 wins in Games 6 and 7 to win their second Cup.

JAMES: Maxime Talbot enjoyed a perfectly respectable NHL career for a grinder.

A player cannot even be selected in the eighth round anymore, yet that’s what happened with Talbot. The Penguins chose Talbot 234th overall in 2002, so Talbot scoring 91 goals and 204 points over 704 career regular-season games stands as a towering achievement.

Yet, for many, Talbot was defined by one night. During Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, Talbot scored both of the Penguins goals.

Now, sure, Evgeni Malkin spoon-fed him that first one, but it’s not always about how, but how much? Maxime Effin’ Talbot scored two goals in a Game 7, and authored both in the second period. That set the stage for Marc-Andre Fleury & Co. to hold on for dear life, culminating with “MAF” making that iconic save against Nicklas Lidstrom.

Of course, hardcore Penguins fans hold other memories of Talbot. He did his McLovin’ impression in a ridiculous local car commercial. Talbot once convincingly dressed up as Sidney Crosby.

But, yeah, Talbot scoring two goals was mind-blowing, and one of the reminders that any player can end up a hero in a Game 7. At least if Justin Williams isn’t around to hog all of the glory.

***

NBC Sports presents Stanley Cup Final Week on NBCSN, reliving classic Stanley Cup Final games and original films and shows from the past decade across seven nights, beginning on Monday, June 8.

Programming will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Monday, June 8 – NBCSN
NHL Hat Trick Trivia Hosted by P.K. Subban (Episode 3) – 5 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final (Game 2) – 5:30 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final (Game 6) – 7 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final (Game 7) – 9 p.m. ET
• Penguins 2009 championship film – 11 p.m. ET
• 2009 Stanley Cup Final (Game 7 encore) – 12:30 p.m. ET
NHL Gamechangers: All-time Greats – 2:30 p.m. ET

NHL plans to test players for COVID-19 daily if games resume

13 Comments

Nick Foligno watches Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus briefings and appreciates the value of the information.

It is part of the reason the Columbus captain supports NHL players undergoing daily testing if the season resumes.

“Testing is a must because it’s the only way you’re going to know and feel confident every time you step on the ice that everyone is in the same boat as you and you can play the game to the best of your ability,” Foligno said.

The first major North American professional sports league to announce a format for its potential return to competition also has a comprehensive COVID-19 testing strategy. There are screening protocols in place for voluntary workouts and training camp in the hands of individual teams. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly also said the NHL plans to test all players every day when games start happening.

“We will have a rigorous daily testing protocol where players are tested every evening and those results are obtained before they would leave their hotel rooms the next morning, so we’ll know if we have a positive test and whether the player has to self-quarantine himself as a result of that positive test,” Daly said. “It’s expensive, but we think it’s really a foundational element of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Each test costs approximately $125, the league says, and Commissioner Gary Bettman estimated 25,000-35,000 will be needed to get through the playoffs — a price tag, he concedes, of “millions of dollars.” But athletes have plenty of concerns about risking their health to get back to work, and regular testing is something players insisted on.

“You need testing at a level sufficient to be confident that you’re going to be on top of anything which might happen,” NHL Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr said. “If that turns out to be daily, and that’s available, that’s OK. That would be good. If it turns out that that’s not quite what we need and we can get by with a little less, that’s OK.”

Infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security isn’t quite sure how often athletes should be tested to ensure they are virus-free. He said testing in German soccer will help other leagues determine the right frequency, which also depends on the type of quarantine and exposure risks players will have.

“We do know that people that have increased contact with each other are going to have more opportunity to spread the virus, and hockey is one of the sports where individuals do have a lot of contact with each other,” Adalja said. “I would say that they’re going to have to be more aggressive than other leagues in terms of testing.”

While players vary on their general concern about contracting the virus by resuming the season, many seem to be on board with frequent testing.

“Having it each and every day begins to limit the potential of getting the virus,” Edmonton player representative Darnell Nurse said. “If that’s what it takes, that’s what the professionals who are in this field and tackle these challenges each and every day, if that’s what they believe is the best option, then that’s the way you have to go.”

Teammate Connor McDavid and Toronto captain John Tavares, who are members of the NHL/NHLPA Return to Play committee, deferred to experts on how often players should be tested. McDavid added, “I think you have to get tested in a time like this, and you want to get tested as frequently as you can to catch it right away.”

Daly said one person testing positive for the coronavirus would not necessarily mean another pause for the NHL. Leaguewide testing done daily would allow the isolation of an infected player, coach or staff member before the start of an outbreak.

“If one guy tests positive, I see it as unlikely that other guys don’t test positive, but in assessing everybody I have to believe that they’ll probably find it,” Montreal player rep Paul Byron said. “What would happen if half your team or four or five or six guys test positive at one time?”

League and team officials have stressed they would only use thousands of tests if that number does not endanger the supply for the general public, a concern Adalja broached for all sports. Bettman said medical experts told the NHL that by the time games could resume this summer, 25,000-30,000 would be “a relatively insignificant number.”

Adalja said a league partnering with a national chain for testing could keep it from interfering with the public supply, though it is difficult to predict what availability will be like in late summer. He also said the cost and availability depends on whether the NHL would use more expensive but more reliable PCR tests — the nose swabs — or rapid antigen tests that can have less sensitivity.

Protocols for voluntary workouts and training camps require PCR testing where available, and Daly said the NHL continues to study the potential use of antigen testing.

Part of the decision on which cities host games is the amount of COVID-19 present in the community. Bettman hopes the combination of going to a place with less of it, testing frequently and putting players in a quarantine “bubble” of sorts means it’s less likely for anyone to contract it.

The players putting faith in the league to keep them healthy hope that turns out to be correct.

“Staying on top of everyone is going to be a good challenge for our training staff, and the onus on the players in making sure everyone’s safe,” Carolina captain Jordan Staal said. “It’s going to be different. It’s going to be some interesting hurdles but hopefully if we get back on the ice, I’m sure the guys will find a way to jump through them.”

Players doing what they can to stay in shape during NHL hiatus

What do you do if you’re an NHL player and don’t have access to your team’s workout facilities? If you’re Anders Lee you order a Peloton bike. If you’re Alex Ovechkin you have your personal trainer work you out in your home gym.

The NHL’s season pause due to the coronavirus pandemic has forced players to do what they can at home. Treadmills, push-ups, sit-ups, sprints, and chasing their kids are some of the methods being used.

“The biggest thing in all of this is you realize how spoiled we are with the way we train now,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno told reporters on a Thursday video conference. “It’s way different from the calisthenics that the older guys would do. You’re kind of going back to that Rocky mentality where you’re doing pushups and sit-ups and punching the cow.”

“It’s hard to be stuck in limbo and to really not have an idea of a goal or maybe a date to set yourself up for being at your peak when the puck is dropped,” said Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal.

When not trying to stay in shape, there’s time for binge-watching — Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal both recommend the “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” Netflix documentary series — and keeping up with the team group text. For the Flyers, it was at first a group video chat, but that didn’t work out.

“We did a group FaceTime the other day and it didn’t go very well,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux. “Everybody just started screaming and couldn’t hear anybody. We’re just trying to keep the group chat going.”

[MORE: Crosby, Ovechkin fine if NHL chooses to go right to playoffs]

It’s in those chats where players discuss the latest updates from the Players’ Association and debate various hypotheticals for finishing the season.

As the players wait to find out when they’ll playing hockey again, they’re doing their best to stay busy. Lee and his wife, Grace, had their first child earlier this month. P.K. Subban of the Devils is spending time in Los Angeles with fiancee Lindsey Vonn trying to stick to his routine as close as possible. Rangers defenseman Marc Staal has been helping with his daughter’s kindergarten homework and cleaning his floors “a lot.”

The players and their families aren’t used to them being home this much at this time of the year. It’s a time of waiting and remaining optimistic.

“It’s getting to a point where you start to feel now things aren’t right,” said Foligno. “We’re used to this time of year gearing up [for playoffs] and we’re sitting around being told it’s probably going to be a little longer. It’s hard. It’s a mental game right now, but we know it’s for the right reasons. So you hold on to that and seeing what’s going on around the world, it’s kind of kept everything in perspective for us all.”

Follow this NBC News live update thread for more on the coronavirus pandemic.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

What is the long-term outlook for the Hurricanes?

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Pending Free Agents

The Core

This has the potential to be one of the best long-term situations in the league given their collective age (one of the youngest teams in the league), the talent and potential on the roster, as well as the fact that so many of the key players are already signed to long-term deals.

The Montreal Canadiens did them a huge favor this offseason by signing Sebastian Aho to an easily matchable offer sheet, locking him in place for the next five years.

Meanwhile, Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal, Nino Niederreiter, Vincent Trocheck, Jaccob Slavin, Brady Skjei, and Brett Pesce are all signed to long-term deals for at least the next two seasons. Several of them signed beyond that, while only two of those players (Aho and Staal) count more than $5.5 million against the salary cap individually.

Add in the fact that Dougie Hamilton is signed for another year, while Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas are both still on their entry-level deals and will not be eligible for unrestricted free agency for another six seasons and all of the most important players are locked in place.

Out of that core group, Staal is the only one over the age of 30 (currently 31), while the majority of them are still age 26 or younger. That means they are all either in the prime of their careers right now, or are just about to reach their prime years in the coming seasons.

Aho, Svechnikov, and Necas are already outstanding players, and all might still have their best days ahead of them.

Long-Term Needs

Goaltending has been the single biggest question mark for this team for almost a decade now, and that still might be the case.

That is not meant to be a knock on the current duo of James Reimer and Petr Mrazek. They have been solid this season when healthy, and a team could certainly do worse than having those two as their regular goalie tandem.

Given the overall strength of the team — and especially the defense when it is healthy — they do not need a game-saving superstar between the pipes to give them a chance. They simply need solid, steady, consistent play. They are getting that.

The question comes from the fact that I just do not know if either one is a true long-term solution in net, and if they have that solution somewhere else in their organization right now.

Both players are signed through the end of next season.

Other than maybe finding a potentially better long-term option in net, there are not a lot of truly pressing needs here. As mentioned above, their core group is locked in place and the addition of Trocheck from the Florida Panthers just before the trade deadline adds what could be an ideal long-term fit in the second-line center spot.

Long-Term Strengths

This current core has been built around its young defense, and that is still by far the team’s biggest strength both now and in the immediate future.

Slavin, Pesce, Skjei, and Gardiner are all signed through at least the 2022-23 season, while the former three all go through the end of the 2023-24 season. Add in Hamilton, who is signed through the end of next season, and that is as good of a top-five as you will find in the NHL right now. They are all in the prime of their careers, they are all outstanding players that fit the modern NHL game with their mobility and puck skills, and they are the backbone of what has been one of the league’s best teams when it comes to limiting shots and scoring chances over the past four years.

If they can manage to get Hamilton re-signed that would be another major piece in place.

Along with the defense, they also have what look to be two of the most important pieces for any contending team already in place with the duo Aho and Svechnikov — impact forwards that can carry the offense.

Aho is already a sensational player and a top-line star, while Svechnikov might end up being the best of the bunch. Aho’s contract could end up looking like a steal over the next four years, while Svechnikov still has one more year on an entry-level contract, giving them a huge advantage when it comes to adding pieces next season.

MORE:
• Looking at the 2019-20 Hurricanes
Hurricanes surprises and disappointments
• John Forslund tells his quarantine story

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.