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John Tavares wishes Long Islanders, ex-Islanders teammates well during COVID-19 pandemic

John Tavares of the Maple Leafs skates during

John Tavares of the Maple Leafs skates during the first period against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 5. Credit: Jim McIsaac

John Tavares, his wife, Aryne, and their 6-month-old son, Jace, are practicing safe social distancing together at their Toronto home with the NHL season on pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the well-being of his former Islanders teammates and staff members and the Long Island community he departed are never far from Tavares’ thoughts with New York being a coronavirus hotspot.

“I know a few people that are really kind of right in the fire of it and seeing how it’s spreading and really making the impact that it is in New York,” Tavares said Monday on an NHL-sponsored video conference call that also included the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara,  the Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin and the Senators’ Brady Tkachuk.

“I really hope everyone there is staying safe and following all of the health recommendations,” Tavares added. “Whether it’s former teammates, staff and people that I know very well, the fans down there. I know a lot of areas have been affected so I wish all the best to them and hope it can get better.”

Tavares said when the NHL first began postponing games on March 12, he found himself “just trying to grasp what’s going on, what’s kind of hit us.”

Since that initial wave of shock, Tavares said he’s been trying to develop a daily routine and maintain a fitness level.

“You know, create some normalcy,” said Tavares, later adding, “kind of slowly build yourself back up as, hopefully, some positivity comes around the corner.”

The one positive Tavares is taking from the league’s forced suspension of play is the added time at home with his newborn son.

“When we’re traveling all through the year and through the season, you’re in and out so quickly,” Tavares said. “You don’t really get to experience that consistency until the offseason. So just having that time to be around them on a daily basis and being able to help out. Spending time with them has been fantastic.”

Still, Tavares echoed every other player who’s participated in this series of NHL media availabilities in saying he misses being around his teammates. Also, he’s watching a “ton of TV.”

But the unwanted downtime has allowed Tavares to develop a new skill.

“I personally enjoy trying to cook a little bit,” he said. “It’s kind of a little nicer out so I try to use the barbecue in the back. Try to use my time that way.”

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