Empty-building games would be “no comparison” to normal NHL playoffs, says

With much talk that the current NHL season — postponed on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic — could be resumed and the playoffs could be contested at neutral venues in mostly-empty arenas, Staal struggles to picture how that would work.

“It’s hard right now to envision, me personally, coming back and playing in a city away from your family for a couple months and in front of no fans,” Staal said on Thursday from his home in the Twin Cities suburbs, on a Zoom call with reporters. “I feel like that’s a little bit difficult to envision, but there’s been a lot of things that have been difficult to envision getting to this point. So you’ll kind of make decisions as time moves on.”

It had already been a trying 2019-20 season off the ice for Staal, 35, when by that fateful Thursday morning in March, players arrived at Xcel Energy Center for a morning skate prior to a scheduled game versus the Vegas Golden Knights only to be sent home until a time undetermined.

Less than two weeks earlier, Staal had missed a few games to be with his family when his father-in-law passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Like the rest of the NHL, Staal is now spending time at home, working out, trying to help his wife and their three sons, and waiting for news — good or bad — about what remains of the current hockey season. All of the talk gets overwhelming, he admitted.

“We’ve got a group chat with our guys. We’ve been kind of up to date for the last couple weeks. Hasn’t been a lot,” said Staal, who was third on the team in goals (19), assists (28) and points (47) when the season was halted. “I mean, honestly, in the last little while, there’s so much out there as far as rumors and this interview and that … after a little while, you kind of stop paying attention because it’s irrelevant, to be honest, until you get to something that’s actual coming from the union.”

Drafted second overall by the Hurricanes in 2003, behind goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins), Staal spent parts of a dozen seasons in Carolina. He signed a free agent pact with the Wild in the summer of 2016 and saw his career rejuvenated, playing a six-hour drive from his family’s home in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

In 2017-18 he scored 42 goals for Minnesota, which in his career was second only to the 45 he scored in Carolina during that 2005-06 run to the Cup.

Naturally, he would like another shot at hoisting the Stanley Cup and bringing it to Minnesota for the first time. But after so many years in the league and so many trips to the playoffs, Staal said the intensity of a tight series in a packed building simply couldn’t be…

- Advertisement -

Read More: Empty-building games would be “no comparison” to normal NHL playoffs, says 2020-05-21 20:00:00

- Advertisement -

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments