It’s been two and a half weeks since the Golden Knights last suited up. Their 3-2 overtime victory in Edmonton was their final game before the league pause.
You miss two weeks without doing anything, your wind goes, your legs go. They’re not nearly the same. Not like an NHL player needs to be. Two weeks is probably the most they can miss, and then it becomes a real hard struggle to get back in a hurry. -Pierre McGuire, TSN Montreal
Established players hit camp around the second week of September, and their first game isn’t until early October. That allows them plenty of time to get the rust off, build endurance, strength, and prepare for a lengthy 82-game season. Most, if not all, are ready to get back to work by camp because they’ve been training and playing scrimmages with other NHL’ers. I’m sure you’ve heard of Da Beauty League or the Comm Ave Classic.
Outside of injuries, players rarely spend two weeks or more off the ice during a normal NHL season. So why is it that easy for players to lose their condition after all of the hard work they put in the offseason and regular season?
Two weeks if they haven’t done anything. A lot of guys will tell you if you miss five days it’s tough to get it back right away. It takes two or three (games). Usually after two weeks players start to lose whatever they had built up to this point during the regular season. It becomes really difficult to get it back on the track. -McGuire
In the past when the NHL allowed their players to participate in the Olympics, the league went on a mini hiatus for more than two weeks. In 2014, the NHL went dark for 17 days. However, those years were completely different than the situation we are currently in.
During Olympic breaks, players selected were staying in top shape by participating in a highly competitive tournament. The others back home were skating, training and practicing normally. Players had access to team facilities and could skate with their fellow teammates, now they don’t. Most importantly, the league had stop and start dates, so clubs knew how many days they could take off. With the pause currently in place, that’s not the case.
If they can’t get back into NHL training situations within the next two weeks I don’t know how they could flip the switch.-McGuire
So when the pause is lifted and the players hit the ice again, how well will games be played? Will there be an exhibition type feel or will the league allow time for the players to get their feet back under them? Possibly using some of the canceled regular season games to become almost a mid-season/preseason before the postseason begins.
It would have to be three weeks. Two to three weeks in order to get up to be speed. Without risking too many injuries.-McGuire
It might be surprising that two weeks off can wipe out a player’s in-season shape, but it’s not news to them. In most of the proposals the NHLPA have presented, there’s a built-in period for strength and conditioning including a mini-camp and then games before the playoffs. If the players want a real competitive playoff later this summer, they’ll have to get their bodies back to regular/postseason form.
Just imagine a Stanley Cup playoff with fresh, rested players with limited injuries. Then imagine one that looks like the preseason.
They’ve got to get it right or else there’s no purpose in doing it at all.