Josh Bailey said things seemed somewhat normal for the first time in a long time when he and three of his New York Islander teammates skated at their East Meadow training center in New York on Monday.
The Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights were among the teams slated to open on Monday. Players will participate on a voluntary basis, and training sessions will be limited to a maximum of six players at any time, plus a limited number of staff.
Bailey has been in New York City throughout the pandemic; his wife gave birth to their third child soon after the season ended on March 12 due to concerns over the coronavirus. He said it had already been tested twice by team doctors.
“We did a test this weekend and then we did one today,” said Bailey. “As far as moving forward, I’m not sure how much we will have to do, but it was a fairly easy test so we’re not too worried about it. With the groups, I think we can have up to six, so we’ll see. It could change, I really don’t know. I’m just sort of going with what we’re told here and taking it day by day, I guess you could say. We will see where we will land in a few days from now, then next week and beyond. For now, just take it day after day. ”
On May 26, the NHL announced its return to play plan, which will involve 24 teams, 12 from each conference, competing for the Stanley Cup. The Islanders (35-23-10, .588 percentage points) are seeded No. 7 of the Eastern Conference and will face the Florida Panthers # 10 (35-26-8, .565) in the best of 5. Qualifying round at the resumption of the season in the NHL. A restart date and two hub city locations have not been announced.
Bailey, who was tied for third in the Islanders’ scoring in the regular season with 43 points (14 goals, 29 assists) in 68 games, said he treated Monday as a normal offseason.
“I think it was a good first step,” said Bailey. “When it comes to the game, it’s exciting. You just have to refocus. Everyone is going through a different time, everything has changed for many people. For us, this is obviously not a typical program that we would be used to. We sort of think of it as August of another year, except that this year you’re not going to training camp and the first game of the season is going to the playoffs. This side of things is different, but it’s even more motivation to make sure you’re ready to go. I’m sure our guys will be.
“We just did some puck manipulation, pretty basic stuff. For the preparation, it was different. We were all in a different situation; some guys had home gyms, some didn’t. I think a lot of guys are on the Peloton train, I started bikes. When the weather was nice outside to train well outside, there were still ways.
“The coaches have definitely given us a lot of options and tips to follow, so you’re doing your best to be ready. I think there is no alternative to skating, so that aspect of things will be fine. I think our calendar for the future will likely increase as we go and treat it as if it were a typical August to get to training camp. ”
Phase 3 of the return to play plan would be the opening of training camps and will not begin until July 10, the NHL announced. Phase 4 would be the start of the qualifying round and the preliminary classification round leading up to the playoffs.
Bailey said he hoped the next steps would happen.
“There are certainly things to be resolved,” said Bailey. “Regarding optimism, I am absolutely optimistic. We just hope for the best and we can get a resolution and get things done. “