Most NHL players are thrilled and cannot wait to return to action for the 24-club playoff tournament, however, two Washington Capitals players will be forced to take a pregnant pause.
Capitals forwards Lars Eller and Carl Hagelin, two key players of their energetic lines, will have to leave the secure Toronto “bubble” for the birth of their children during the restarted NHL season.
Usually, players and their wives attempt to time the birth of a baby for the summer, when there is no hockey, and while the timing was perfect this time around, no one could predict the 2019-20 season would get suspended and a 24-team playoff tournament to crown a Stanley Cup champion would resume in August.
Eller and his wife Julie Eller are expected the birth of their second child together on Aug. 8. That’s during the Capitals’ round-robin schedule, in which they play the Tampa Bay Lightning (Aug. 3), Philadelphia Flyers (Aug. 6) and Boston Bruins (Aug. 8) for seeding for the next round. Eller even admitted to ESPN he considered opting out of the entire tournament, but made sure he could be present for the birth and also for his team and their playoff journey.
“A lot of thoughts going into the decision. Weighing the pros and cons. We’re going to have a new addition to our family in a couple of weeks. But at the same time, I want to be with my team and win another Cup. We’re working on making the necessary arrangements so I can be there for the birth and then come back to the bubble after that,” he in a conference call on Tuesday.
He and Hagelin, whose wife Erica Hagelin is expected their second child in September, when the Capitals could be playing in elimination series, will have to follow strict rules to return to their team’s dressing room.
According to the NHL, individuals who leave the bubble for extenuating circumstances “will be required to return at least four consecutive negative PCR test results over a four-day period, and will be required to quarantine in their individual hotel room until such testing requirements have been fulfilled.”
Things will get complicated for the Capitals, dealing with two players leaving the bubble during this crucial time. They can only hope they don’t test positive upon their return.