Senators return to training after COVID-19 break


The Ottawa Senators returned to practice on Saturday for the first time since three games were postponed due to 10 players in COVID-19 protocol.

Ottawa’s training facilities had been closed since November 15, when its games against the New Jersey Devils on November 16, against the Nashville Predators on November 18, and against the New York Rangers on November 20 were postponed.

“We, all the players, coaches, leaders, for the most part, each of us grew up wanting to play hockey our whole life and that’s what we do,” said Senators coach DJ Smith. “[From] August to June, hopefully you want to be at the rink. It was an unfortunate time we had to shut down, but it’s great to be back. … It’s not the ideal situation, but you know what, safety is paramount and we got it right. “

The game against the Devils has been postponed to December 6 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The other two have not yet been reprogrammed.

“These are uncharted waters,” Smith said. “I’ve spoken to other League coaches and players who have been through it. Some came back without a problem. Some came back in the first game and it was awful. So we’ll have to see how we go. here, and [we may have to] give guys a day off here or there or put cool guys in to give them time to recuperate. “

Of the 10 players entered into the COVID-19 protocol, eight returned on Saturday: the attackers Austin watson, Alex Formenton, Dylan gambrell and Connor brown, defenders Nick holden, Victor Mete and Josh brown, and goalkeeper Matt Murray. Cheeky Drake batherson, who leads the team with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists), and defenseman Nikita Zaitsev always remain in the protocol.

“I think everyone is joking about how it almost feels like the first day of training camp, just kind of seeing everyone and getting back into the groove,” he said. . Brady Tkachuk noted. “It’s nice to be back. Nice to be back in a bit of a routine here.

“This [stinks] does not play, but under the circumstances you understand. This is about the health and safety not only of our team and staff, but also of the people around us. I think those calls were necessary to keep us safe. “

The Senators (4-10-1), who haven’t trained since November 5 and haven’t played since a 4-0 loss to the Calgary Flames on November 14, are set to play their first game since break at the Colorado Avalanche on Monday (8:30 p.m. ET; SN1, ALT, RDS, ESPN +, NHL LIVE). Smith, who has said he’s not sure Batherson and Zaitsev will travel for the game, expects some fatigue after the first practice.

“I’m going to go around and ask the guys how they feel after today, definitely later tonight and tomorrow morning, how they feel after the first practice,” Smith said. “Sounds wise, the guys who looked that looked okay. Some of the guys who haven’t skated for five days feel the same. So is it because you were sick, or is it because you haven’t skated in five days? So we’ll find out when the game starts.

The Ottawa games were the first NHL games postponed this season due to concerns over COVID-19. The NHL postponed 55 games last season; all were put together under a schedule of 56 games for each of the 31 teams.

“It’s really nice to get back on the ice,” said Watson. “It’s been a bit difficult. I think I’ve only played two games here in the last nine months or something. Just a little bad luck, a few [injuries] and COVID. Considering all of this, I feel pretty good.

“I know DJ and [Tkachuk] and [defenseman Thomas Chabot] I have spoken at length about the lack of excuses here, but it is really true. There is much worse. People are going through very difficult times over the past two years. “

Monday will kick off a four-game six-day streak for the Senators, who play against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

“We’re going to play each other again,” Smith said. “The League isn’t getting easy. No one feels sorry for you. No one is going to give up for you. So we’re going to have to stick together. And whoever’s fitter or who’s doing better is going to have to go for it. the moment. “ Independent Correspondent Callum Fraser contributed to this report

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