Brassard, Isles staying ready for restart
Veteran forward's first season in New York remains on pause
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman revealed Tuesday that the league’s season has not yet been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandenic, and that hockey will be “ready to go” as soon as he is given the “green light” by authorities and medical professionals.
Islanders veteran forward Derick Brassard is taking those words to heart, staying in shape in case his first season with the Brooklyn/Long Island-based franchise does begin again.
“I was using my gym in my building and then they shut down everything,” the 32-year-old Quebec native noted.
“I’ve been in contact with our strength coaches [Derrek Douglas] and [Sean Donellan]. They’ve established a plan for the players; just to give some ideas of things you could do. I just go from there. I just go outside the property here and I just grab my dumbbells.”
Brassard, who was in Calgary with the rest of his teammates when the NHL shut down operations because of the COVID-19 outbreak on March 11, is trapped at home like the majority of New Yorkers.
“I think it’s hard for everybody,” Brassard said. “I feel like the first few days were the hardest for me. Now, I’ve found a little routine. We’re doing the same routine basically every day during the season.
“I’ve been going to the grocery store and that’s the only time I come out of the house. I go for walks, I work out, I watch shows, I try to talk on the phone with family and friends through FaceTime, I’ve just been trying to stay away from the bad habits.”
Brassard also admitted to binge-watching “Tiger King” in a single day while taking in some old NHL games and even trying his hand at cooking during these lonely and confusing times.
“I wish I was better at [cooking], but it’s good to have the time to work on it,” he joked during an interview on the team’s website.
“I’m trying to stay healthy and get three meals in, too. I can do the easy stuff; I don’t have a barbecue or anything. I just keep it basic: fish, meat, vegetables, rice, pasta, something like that.”
The 13-year veteran and former New York Ranger ceded that he was just settling in with the Islanders before the NHL’s pause after spending time with three different franchises last season.
“Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way I was playing,” said Brassard, who had 10 goals and 22 assists while playing left wing rather than his customary center position this year. “Consistency is the biggest thing. I’m just ready to play any type of role.”
The Islanders were in the midst of a season-high seven-game losing streak but will only be a single point out of the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference if and when play resumes.
“The league is really hard; there’s a lot of good teams, there’s no easy nights,” Brassard said of the Isles’ campaign.
“I think our team and our dressing room believes that we can compete with anybody. Sometimes it’s good to face adversity, good teams find ways to get out of that. We believe in our dressing room. You’ve got to take a positive out of everything.”
Despite his eagerness to get back on the ice and help the Isles pursue their second postseason berth in as many seasons, Brassard understands that there are much bigger questions looming than whether the NHL will resume at some point this year.
“That’s what’s really hard for everybody too,” he said. “Nobody knows what’s going on, but the most important thing is that everybody; I’m not talking about just hockey players, everyone needs to say safe.
“We’re losing lives every day, that’s not something you like to see. We have to try to respect rules and follow instructions. I think if we do that we’ll get out of this quicker.”
Isle Have Another: Bettman, a Long Island native, was on NBCSN’s “Lunch Talk Live” Tuesday where he discussed the league’s status in the midst of this ongoing health crisis. “From an NHL standpoint, and I’m sure this is what the other leagues are doing, we’re viewing all of our options,” he said. “We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light, and the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the country you can’t play and other places where you can. We’re looking at all options. Nothing has been ruled in, nothing has been ruled out. It’s largely going to be determined what we do by how much time there is, because we have next season to focus on as well, and the health of the country, and by the country, I mean both Canada and the U.S., obviously.”
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