How a chicken coop is helping four NHL players stay connected amid coronavirus shutdown

It started when Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf named his chicken coop.

After that, the conversation went all over the place during a 30-minute video conference call with Getzlaf, Kings captain Anze Kopitar, San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture and Vegas Golden Knights goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury.

Book clubs and beach excursions, home gymnastics and home education were discussed. The players exchanged stories about fatherhood and family life, the sole focus for each since the NHL season was suspended more than two weeks ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As old friends reunited during a summer campfire, they didn’t have to be teammates to enjoy each other’s company. Even in a video chat, answering submitted questions from reporters, the group recreated the kind of camaraderie that had suddenly become less common during this health crisis.

The Getzlaf poultry plan provided the most relevant example.

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The idea for chicken coops came up a few days earlier when the Getzlaf family ran out of eggs. Instead of going to the store, they borrowed freshly laid eggs from a neighbor in their Orange County township, who had their own chicken coop. Immediately inspired, Getzlaf set to work building one on his property.

Three days later, he has already stacked a wooden frame and many more shelves in his backyard. When Getzlaf showed it during the conversation on Friday, the others couldn’t help but crack a smile.

“Impressive,” said Couture.

“That’s good,” Fleury repeated.

“Another and a half!” Kopitar added, laughing the loudest at his Southland counterpart.

Overall, this unforeseen break was of course not easy for one of the veterans. Fleury’s Golden Knights were in the midst of a playoff push when the game ended on March 12. Kopitar and Getzlaf were looking forward to a final series of matches for their reconstruction teams.

“Mentally, it’s quite difficult,” said Kopitar. “Because you don’t know if you’re going to start in the next few weeks or the next few months. You try to stay somewhat loose and keep moving. “

But keeping busy was hardly a challenge. Couture started an online book club that was posted on the Sharks’ social media accounts. Kopitar, Getzlaf and Fleury, meanwhile, have all been busy making arrangements to continue their children’s education at home.

“My wife is grinding now,” Getzlaf said of his wife, Paige, with whom he has four children. “She has a full school setup upstairs. They are doing some things online now. But she has to take care of the whole thing. “

Kopitar, a father of two, agreed: “We had our first Zoom [online video] class session today, so that killed 45 minutes. ”

Staying in shape was another unique challenge. Mountain biking is one of Fleury’s favorite exercises. Couture has a Peloton exercise bike in the post. Kopitar has split his workouts between his South Bay home and the nearby beach. (LA County announced on Friday that it had closed all beaches.)

“Apart from that, for me it’s really just body weight and core material,” said Kopitar. “I’m just trying to get through it and stay as active as possible.”

Regular season routines were the most difficult to replicate, the rhythms of a season and the relationship between teammates proved difficult to maintain in what could be a months-long hiatus. Kopitar did say that lately non-stop lyrics have been placed in Kings’ roster-wide group chat and that he immediately got an answer to the question of which players he would prefer to be quarantined with.

“I’m going to choose one man for both scenarios and we all know that’s Drew Doughty,” said Kopitar. “Being with the man every day, there is literally something new every second.”

But there has been much less of that lately. Because when hockey stopped, all those fleeting moments around the ice rink, the precious little memories accumulated over the course of a season.

It’s partly why, even with the Kings out of the playoff race, Kopitar would still like to end the regular season; why he and the other three players of the conversation got so effortlessly into conversation on Friday; why they all looked so happy that they even had a little piece of hockey back.

“It’s difficult for everyone right now,” said Kopitar. “It’s not just hockey related. Now it depends on what’s going to happen in the next two months. It’s a big question mark. At this point, you probably better go every day and don’t have to think too far ahead. stay positive as possible. “

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