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COVID-19 pandemic leaves Islanders coach Barry Trotz heartbroken and inspired

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz of against the

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz of against the Los Angeles Kings at Barclays Center on Feb. 6, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Barry Trotz hears the firsthand accounts of battling COVID-19 from his Garden City neighbors who are health-care workers. The Islanders’ coach has no illusions about how horrific the situation is in New York.

“It’s really strange times,” Trotz said Friday on an NHL-arranged video conference call that included Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville and Edmonton Oilers coach Dave Tippett. “New York is right in the middle of it. It’s real. The rest of the country, maybe Canada, don’t realize how real this is.”

And the grim reality of New York being “sort of a canary in a coal mine right now for the nation” has left Trotz both heartbroken and inspired.

“You see the front-line workers here pushed to their limits,” he said. “Their families have been separated from them. Some of the front-line people have been separated from their families for 20, 30 days. They’re staying at hotels and going right back to work. My heart goes out to all of them and thanks them. The people that are still working in some of those essential areas — a grocery store — my heart goes out to them.

“We get the daily totals of how many people have passed on and it’s heartbreaking. To anybody who’s lost people, family members, or can’t get with their families, our thoughts are with you.”

Trotz said he also was inspired by how other families are making the most of the rare opportunity to spend so much time together. “So take advantage of that, and please pray for those who have lost,” he said.

Trotz is with his wife and two of their children on Long Island, preparing as if play will resume and acknowledging that “everybody wants to get back to their normal life.”

The NHL paused play on March 12 and has extended the self-quarantine period for its personnel through April 30. “If we do get back, as coaches, I think we have more issues than we think,” Trotz said.

Tippett, at his property in Arizona, is mourning the loss of Oilers forward Colby Cave, who died last Saturday at the age of 25 after suffering a brain bleed unrelated to the coronavirus.

“It’s just a true tragedy,” Tippett said. “He was just an outstanding young man. He was undrafted. He fought for everything he got. He’s got a great family. He was married for a year. A freak cyst on his brain took his life.

“It’s a sad week for the Oilers. The outpouring from the league has been outstanding. He was a young guy living his dream sadly taken too soon.”

Quenneville said he was in Chicago, where he traveled to celebrate Easter with his family after spending the first month of a self-quarantine in Florida.

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