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Maple Leafs captain John Tavares has been trying to keep himself occupied at his Toronto home with the National Hockey League season on pause in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s one part of his life that takes precedence.
“I’m just really enjoying spending time with my son,” Tavares said on Monday during a video conference call organized by the NHL. “When you’re travelling through the season, you’re in and out so quickly, you don’t get to experience that consistency.
“Just having that time to be around on a daily basis and be able to help out and spend time with them has been fantastic.”
Tavares and his wife, Aryne, became parents last September with the birth of their son Jace.
During the call — which included fellow Atlantic Division players Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings and Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators — Tavares made it clear he’s not taking the time off from the game for granted.
“With the uncertainty, it’s a good time to disconnect and relax and slowly build yourself back up, as hopefully some positivity comes around the corner,” Tavares said. “The first couple of days I just tried to get an understanding of where things are at and what has hit us. Since then, (you) try to develop some type of structure to create some normalcy.”
No one has a true idea of when we’re going to see professional athletes back on the job, never mind those in the NHL, but that wasn’t at the forefront for the players on the call.
For Tavares, it was about recognizing those he knows in New York from his days as an Islander, as well as Leafs fans.
That the Leafs were inching their way toward clinching a playoff berth when the NHL went on pause doesn’t matter a heck of a lot now.
“I know a few people who are right in the fire of it, and seeing how it’s spreading and really making the impact that it is in New York, I really hope everyone there is staying safe and following the health recommendations,” Tavares said. “Whether it’s former teammates, staff and people I know very well, the fans down there, people I interacted with there, I wish all the best to them and hope it can get better.
“In Toronto, we certainly miss playing in front of our fans and going to Scotiabank Arena and competing to play in the playoffs and the opportunity that we had in front of us.
“It’s a really special thing to be a Maple Leaf, and we never take that for granted and miss it. People have been really good in my area understanding (to follow the advice of local authorities and health professionals), we’re all here supporting each other, helping each other to do the best we can to get this back to normal as quickly as possible and (to) help everyone on the front line who are making a lot of sacrifices to keep everyone safe.”
There was some levity during the call. Chara got a laugh when he said that Tuukka Rask would be the teammate he would least want to be quarantined with because of Rask’s flatulence issues.
If he had to pick a teammate to be in quarantine with, Tavares said it would be Mitch Marner or Justin Holl.
“The type of energy they bring around the locker room, how much fun they have every day is something anyone would enjoy,” Tavares said. “Two guys who are a lot of fun to be around.”
Who among teammates is Tavares glad he is not in quarantine with?
“Good question … can’t think of anyone right off the top of my head,” Tavares said.
Among the way the Leafs are keeping in touch with each other is via group chat.
“We can’t leave each other too long without giving it to one another,” Tavares said. “You miss being around the guys.”
Unlike many, Tavares hasn’t been glued to Netflix to watch the documentary Tiger King, though his wife has been watching it and the small bits Tavares has seen are “pretty mind-boggling.”
If Tavares could have one album to listen to during the time at home?
“I like a lot of 90s stuff, so whether it would be Dave Matthews Band or Goo Goo Dolls or U2, something like that,” Tavares said.
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