Isles’ Jordan Eberle making the most of NHL pause
The veteran forward is spending quality time at home with his infant daughter.
Islanders forward Jordan Eberle was in Calgary last month when he and his teammates were informed that the NHL season was going to be suspended indefinitely amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Five days later, Eberle, back in Long Island, received the ultimate gift of hope during these confusing and perilous times as he and his wife, Lauren, welcomed a baby daughter, Collins Rodych Eberle.
“I flew home [March 11] before the Calgary game and she didn’t give birth until a few days later,” Eberle told the Brooklyn/Long Island-based franchise’s website Monday.
“She had a home birth,” added Eberle, who had expected to be out of town until at least March 15 during the Isles’ four-game road trip before COVID-19 interceded. “We had planned to do that before. With everything going on it was nice that we didn’t have to go to the hospital. For me, not missing [the birth], because I was freaking out that I was going to miss it, was great.”
The 29-year-old Saskatchewan native, currently in his third year with the Isles after spending his first seven NHL seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, scored a goal in New York’s 5-4 shootout loss in Vancouver on March 10 in what proved to be the last game he would skate in for the foreseeable future.
Eberle had already landed in Calgary for the Isles’ March 12 game against the Flames when news dropped that the NHL was joining other professional and amateur sporting leagues across the globe in shutting down during this health crisis.
Rather than lamenting the interruption to the season, which may or may not continue later this year, Eberle is embracing the opportunity to spend time with his new daughter, something he wasn’t expecting when the Isles prepared to leave New York following a 3-2 loss to Carolina on March 7.
“It’s been crazy with everything that’s gone on,” Eberle said. “It’s funny with the timing of all this with all of the craziness in the world. What are the chances that the season would be [paused] and I’d have time to spend time with [Collins].
“That’s been a positive. Obviously, with the suspension of the season it gives me time to get to know her and to kind of get into a routine. More than anything, to just help my wife out. With no one being able to travel it’s just been us three right now. With everything going on now and losing hockey it sucks, but that’s been the one positive for sure.”
With the NHL’s quarantine policy extended to April 15, a date that’s sure to be pushed back, Eberle is relishing his time with Collins, whom he didn’t expect to spend quality time with until the Isles’ campaign was over.
“You know what, it’s been great so far,” Eberle said. “You get to know her, what she likes. She gets to get used to me. It’s definitely been surreal. Every night it seems like I come up to bed and all of a sudden I hear a whimpering in her bassinet beside the bed.
“It’ll hit me like, ‘Oh my gosh, I forgot there was a kid here!’ It’s surreal, to be honest. It hasn’t really set in. Lauren and I have always talked about having a few kids. So, to have the first one and her be so easy so far, we were kind of joking that she’s going to trick us into having another one so quick.”
While he stays busy strumming lullabies to his daughter on his guitar, Eberle is also keeping in shape in case the NHL does start up again in the near future.
“I do have a gym at my house here,” Eberle said. “I’ve been trying to stay in shape as much as I can. It’s hard when you’re in limbo and don’t know if there’s going to be a season or not, but you’ve got to try and keep yourself in shape as much as possible.
“Whether it’s going on a run, or we take the baby for a walk each day. It keeps your mind, if anything, fresh. You’re just trying to prepare as much as you can for the season, if there is a season.
The Isles, currently one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina for the final two Eastern Conference playoff spots, were in the midst of a season-high seven-game losing streak when the season was paused.
Eberle, who had amassed 16 goals and 24 assists while skating in 58 of the Isles’ first 68 contests, said that he was just hitting his stride on the ice at the time of the stoppage.
“I started really slow and then, obviously got hurt five games in,” Eberle said of a lower-body injury that cost him nearly a month of playing time. “That had a lot to do with just not playing healthy, but once I got my game under me and came back in December, the last few months I really found my game.
“I got it back to where I needed it to be,” he added. “It’s so disappointing with where the [season was placed on pause], you’re making a playoff push. The biggest thing is, you want to try and mentally stick with it. Whether you’re watching hockey once in a while or staying in shape, you don’t want to check yourself out completely.”
Though he’s staying in touch with his fellow quarantined teammates via phone and social media, Eberle is more focused on diaper changes and watching the growth of his first-born, something that amazes him daily.
“I’m really just trying to soak in as much time as I can with Collins,” Eberle said.
“I know once the season gets back up it’ll be a totally different routine. It seems like she’s changing every day. It’s nice to just be with her as much as I can and help Mom out too.”
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