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The Great One Speaks, Hockey as an Escape, and More!

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It’s the Monday edition of Links, News, and Notes!

2019 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

A lot of you might be thinking that these days are “slow news days”, but truthfully, you just need to know where to look. The newfound downtime that journalists are now working through has required them to get creative, and try to dig up stories that they may have been too busy, or too preoccupied with other things to tackle before.

This is an article-heavy edition of LNN, but they’re all well worth your time. Especially considering that most of us have nothing but time these days. Hope you enjoy!

  • For the optimists among us, Wayne Gretzky is in your corner.
The Great One On 1” With NHL Legend Wayne Gretzky Taping

The Great One spoke with the Associate Press over the the weekend, and offered his thoughts on the COVID-19 stoppage, and how he sees the summer playing out, with regards to the NHL:

“I really believe somehow, someway, that the leadership in this country and in Canada, that we’re going to figure this out,” Gretzky said. “And I really believe that we’ll see hockey and some sort of other sports in June, July and August, albeit in a different way, but I really see it coming to fruition. I think it’s going to happen.”

“Maybe I’m wrong,” he said. “Maybe I’m too optimistic. I think I’m not. I hope that that’s a good sign for everyone that we’re moving on in life, in business, in sports. I really see in the next couple months something good happening.”

While I hope Gretzky is right, I’m admittedly a bit skeptical. There are so many moving parts to any potential sports return, and an almost unbelievable amount of things would have to go right, including the United States cohesively putting the brakes on their ongoing battle with the disease.

It’s also possible that Gretzky knows something we don’t, but time will tell.

  • Living through the worst pandemic in over a century is hard on anyone, but more so for people with chronic illnesses. Jess Belmosto, of The Hockey Writers, is one of those people.

Jess wrote a phenomenal piece for the site, entitled “When Hockey Becomes More Than a Game”. She goes into detail about how hockey has become an escape for her in times of struggle, and it’s a great read to keep things in perspective during this trying period.

Sports have become a major escape from my physical pain. I grew up watching baseball and found it to be my first love. I watched hockey too but never had a real connection. The Boston Bruins went on a Stanley Cup run the year I was being diagnosed. I would listen to the radio on my way into the city for testing and watch the games when we finally made it home. The Bruins might’ve lost at home but that spring meant a whole lot more to me.

Make sure you check it out.

  • If we do happen to get even a condensed Stanley Cup Playoff this year, folks worried about there being an asterisk beside this year’s winner should take heed from Max Pacioretty.
Vegas Golden Knights v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

The Vegas Golden Knights forward gave an interview to his team’s website, where he voiced his belief that this year’s Stanley Cup will be the hardest ever to win.

...whatever teams that have been banged up are healing up right now. They’re getting their bodies ready, and you better believe everyone around the League is trying to get every advantage possible in terms of recovery and getting in whatever shape they can. Most teams go into the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] beat up, but that won’t be the case this year. Guys are going to be healthy and teams are going to be able to show their true forms with pretty much every player on the roster.

“For me, I look at it as this will be one of the most special playoffs since I can remember. Teams aren’t going to have any excuses. It’s going to be your full team ready to rock and ready to go.”

The idea of a Stanley Cup Playoff with teams at full health is tantalizing to say the least, but the question remains of just how it would look. If it’s in a condensed format, and/or less games are played, will people regard it the same by comparison to others?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

2017 Rogers NHL Centennial Classic - Alumni Game Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

In what is a sobering read, Zeisberger relays Maple Leafs legend Borje Salming’s terrifying bout with what appears to be COVID-19 in Sweden last month. Though he was never tested, Salming revealed that he had suffered from some very serious, telltale symptoms of the disease:

“It was scary,” Salming told NHL.com from Sweden. “I was having problems breathing. At times I couldn’t even breathe. I was shivering and shivering. It was awful.”

”I felt like I was dying,” he said, his voice crackling with emotion. “I thought I was. That’s how bad it was. You can’t really describe it. I was so sick. I really did think, ‘Well, this could be it.’

Thankfully, Salming is well on the road to recovery after a one-day hospital stay. He was even able to celebrate a very nice 69th birthday this past Friday.

Happy birthday, and best of health to you, Mr. Salming. Take it easy.

  • For sports fans, the question of when the games they love will return in any capacity is the one at the forefront of most minds. Like I said, there are a lot of moving parts, and it’s hard to fathom what a fine line major leagues would be walking. Here’s a great piece from The New York Times, by Joe Drape, Ken Belson, and Billy Witz, that outlines some of the hurdles pro sports are facing.
Los Angeles Angels v Cleveland Indians Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Among those quoted in the piece is Mike Trout, star outfielder for the MLB’s Los Angeles Angels. He lends some context to what kind of personal issues athletes may be facing in any sort of return to play:

“My wife is pregnant, what am I going to do when she goes into labor? Am I going to have to quarantine for two weeks after I come back? Because obviously I can’t miss that birth of our first child. So, there’s a lot of red flags, there’s a lot of questions...Obviously, we would have to agree on it as players. But I think the mentality is we want to get back as soon as we can, but obviously it’s got to be realistic.”

It’s easy to forget that the athletes we idolize are human beings, and that this virus complicates things for them as well. Sports, or no sports.