Anders Lee was asked to describe the toughest challenges playing against the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, the Blue Jackets’ Nick Foligno and the Devils’ P.K. Subban, the three other participants on an NHL-conducted video conference call on Thursday.
It seemed to make the Islanders captain – involuntarily sidelined along with the rest of the sports world because of the COVID-19 pandemic – wistful.
“What you love about the game is the challenges it brings every night, every shift,” Lee said. “That’s what makes it so rewarding when you’re successful as a team. Those are the feelings you miss when you’re away from it.”
It was the first interview session for an Islanders’ player since March 11, the day before the NHL season was placed on pause. The players, though, didn’t face live questions. Instead, the media submitted questions and the league chose which ones to ask during the 45-minute session.
Lee said he has remained at his Long Island residence with his wife, Grace, and the couple’s first child, Ruby, born on March 2.
“Her mom and brother were here for a little bit helping us out and now it’s just us two and we’re enjoying our time with our baby girl,” Lee said.
Lee said he ordered a Peloton because the gym at his complex has been closed. His other training is going jogging with his two dogs and some work with weights.
The Islanders were in Calgary on March 12 for a scheduled game against the Flames. Instead, their morning skate was canceled and, later in the afternoon, they hastily returned to New York.
“It was an extremely interesting time, a lot of moving parts,” Lee said. “The viruses swept so far, so quickly. There was a lot of information we were getting from our [players’] association reps, from our GM and our coach. Everybody was feeding us information. It’s kind of how it is today, getting new facts.
“The NBA had made a couple of calls and a couple of decisions with regards to playing in front of fans,” Lee added. “We had a feeling we were close behind. It was a little bit in limbo for half a day but, obviously, it was the right decision for the health and safety for everybody involved, not just us players.”
Now, there’s just uncertainly, with no answers on when or if the regular season will resume, if the NHL will go straight to the playoffs or if any more games will be played before the next season starts.
The Islanders went into the forced break on an 0-3-4 slide and in a 2-7-4 slump since Feb. 13.
Lee said the stoppage in play was likely beneficial to the Islanders because of their recent play, even if the circumstances are horrific.
But he had no suggestions on what scheduling format the NHL should adopt.
“The format is going to be whatever is best for the league, the players, the fans,” Lee said. “It’s tough to project any of that. It’s got to be the best for everyone involved and for the safety of coming to the rink and going into next year.”