Brian MacLellan spoke to reporters on Monday via a conference call from Minneapolis, Minn. It’s a long way from where the Washington Capitals general manager normally would be at this time of year — but then again things aren’t business as usual right now.
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping across the globe, the NHL’s 2019-20 season was placed on pause on March 12. At that moment, MacLellan’s squad was sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with 90 points, with the Philadelphia Flyers hot on their tails. Although there is presently no timetable for when — or even if — the season will restart, there has reportedly been talks of teams hitting the ice in what is traditionally the offseason.
“I think it’s a possible scenario [to play even in August] depending on how the virus plays out,” he said. “I think depending on how the country, the world handles the virus, I think there is a possibility of playing [to the] end of June, July, August. I think the league is prepared, they’ve asked for building dates in August so I’m assuming it’s a serious consideration on their part.”
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For MacLellan, who has been with the organization since 2001 and was named GM in 2014 before building the 2018 Stanley Cup champion squad, he would prefer to see regular-season games before teams jump into the postseason. However, having to implement, in theory, a full playoff schedule would make that possibility murkier.
“There’s no set answer to it because I don’t know how much time we’re going to have,” he noted. “If we have eight weeks, do we have 10 weeks, do we have more than 10 weeks? Depending on that time frame and if that’s even legitimate at the time, you would have to set your schedule there. So could you shorten a series? Could you shorten the end of the schedule? I think all those options are on the table and I think it’s just how the virus plays out and how we handle it and how much time we would have to get a season in if we could get a season in at the end.
“You’d like to see the [Stanley] Cup awarded. I haven’t really thought too much about it. Like everybody else in the organization, probably in society, I look at it as day-to-day. It seems like the situation changes day to day on where we’re at and where we’re headed, so I try to stay in that mindset. We try and take care of our guys, you try and take care of your family at home and kind of move on from that.”
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With the uncertainty of the season and playoffs, the draft and free agency still lingering, the one thing MacLellan — along with probably everyone on the call can agree on — is missing hockey.
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “It’s been different. It’s amazing how your life just comes to a halt and all the things you do day to day doesn’t matter anymore and all of a sudden there’s a big picture, there’s a reality going on and all the little things you’re concerned about on a daily basis don’t really matter much.
“All of a sudden, you have time and you’re doing stuff around the house, you’re touching base with family more, you’re doing more family things. It’s a change in lifestyle and it’s a change in, probably, priorities.”