We’re often reminded that the NHL stars we watch on TV are just normal people off the ice, and that’s especially true given everything that’s going on with the coronavirus pandemic. The Oilers’ Alex Chiasson is no different.
“I’m not a medical expert,” Chiasson told reporters on a video chat Wednesday. “I get the news just as everyone else does.”
Chiasson has been riding out the pandemic at his home in Edmonton and doing much the same things everyone else has since the NHL paused all operations March 12: hanging out at home, working out as much as possible and waiting for this global crisis to pass.
“Obviously, life is a lot different,” he said. “We’re doing our best with social distancing and staying home as much as we can. Obviously, it seems to me it’s the way that medical experts are saying that it’s helping the most, so we’re doing our best.”
When the pandemic first began to spread in North America, the Montreal native thought primarily about his family.
“I think that the biggest thing was my close family,” he said. “My grandma, my mom and dad . . . My parents are healthy, they’re doing well, but I think the biggest message was trying to make my point that this COVID-19 could really impact them. So I think for us . . . we’re hockey players but we’re also human beings and you want everyone around you to stay healthy. For me, I was really protective of my mom and dad, just making sure that they stay home.”
On the ice, Chiasson has helped the Oilers climb to second place in the Pacific Division this season. He has tallied 11 goals and 13 assists in 65 games as a reliable fourth-line winger.
The team, led by explosive playmakers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who have 110 and 97 points, respectively, was building momentum ahead of the playoffs. Then everything froze — but Chiasson still liked what he saw.
“There were a lot of new faces at the start of the year. Obviously a new coach (Dave Tippett), with that comes a new system, a different way of playing and practicing and things like that,” he said. “I think it took a little bit of time as a team to mesh together and for everyone to find where they fit and how they fit on the team, so it was a little adjustment period. We’ve had a few ups and downs throughout the year but it felt like the last month the team was really coming along together.”
He added that he had been looking forward to a postseason run.
“We’ve had a few injuries and we’ve had guys step up and play well,” he said. “I thought our team was prepared to go into the playoffs and be a good playoff team.”
As for a return to action, Chiasson is hopeful, but he knows it will be difficult if the season resumes in the next few months.
“Whatever decision the league makes, everyone’s going to start at the same point,” he said, “so that’s going to be on us. We’re professional athletes, we’ve got to make sure we prepare, and it’s not easy, but it is what it is and you’ve got to deal with the situation as best as you can.”
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