When the sports world came grinding to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL allowed players to return home, wherever that might be. For Toronto Maple Leafs’ goalie Frederik Andersen, however, it wasn’t that simple.
“Denmark was kind of ahead of Canada and the U.S. a little bit [in regards] of being shut down,” he told reporters in a conference call on Thursday. “So that kind of felt a little out of the question for me.”
Luckily, Andersen’s teammate Auston Matthews offered to let him stay at his house in Arizona.
“We’ve been close friends since we’ve played together, but obviously spending a bit more time, it’s been fun so far,” the netminder said. “[We’re] pretty competitive about some of the things [we] do here, which is just fun. Having someone to hang out with, talk to, is nice, so I’m very appreciative of being out here.”
The Danish goalie had been having another solid season in Toronto before the NHL season was paused on March 12. He was fourth in the league in wins (29) and in total saves (1434), despite posting the lowest save percentage (.909) and highest GAA (2.85) of his career in 52 games this year. He was also named to the 2020 All-Star game for the first time in his career.
Now, like most other hockey players, he’s desperate to get back on the ice — but with that still out of the question, he and Matthews have been exploring other options.
“It’s definitely a challenge not being able to be on the ice,” Andersen commented. “I do have all my gear out here, so I think we’re going to experiment a little bit. He has a little sports court in his house now so I definitely think we’re going to test that out and shoot some pucks. Maybe I can work on my stickhandling and my shot as well!
“I think especially in a time like this where the facilities are limited, it’s about trying to be creative and coming up with something. [Maybe] something with a tennis ball machine, or playing different games with him … he’s got a ping-pong table so we can play with that a little bit, do something with that, and not miss too many steps in this interruption.”
Andersen is hoping to stay ahead of the curve, especially because he thinks it’ll be harder for goalies to get back into a rhythm than it will be for skaters.
“As a shooter, you don’t really need a goalie to work on your shot,” he said. “I think as a goalie you just need someone to shoot at you. So I think in that thought, maybe shooters have a little bit of an advantage.”
As for the many different rumors floating around about the plan to finish the season, including hosting the rest of the games in certain arenas, he’s willing to do whatever it takes.
“I’ve heard a lot of different ideas and obviously different scenarios, but I’m pretty open to pretty much anything that can be done to salvage the season,” Andersen noted, as the Leafs remain third in the Atlantic Division. “I definitely want to see something to be done to try to finalize the season and not lose out on all the hard work and all the stuff that has been put into the season.”
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