What is social distancing like for Lightning’s Ryan McDonagh?

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TAMPA, Fla. — Ryan McDonagh hasn’t glanced at a calendar in weeks. The Lightning defenseman and his wife, Kaylee, have looked to local news to know what’s open and what’s allowed. They stay away from national news since it’s too early to have a timeline on the world returning to normal.

“We don’t want to read things, hear things and get all of these what-if scenarios in our heads,” McDonagh said on a video conference call Wednesday morning.

Keeping in contact with friends and family has helped McDonagh manage mentally. He’s been FaceTiming and texting with people back home in Minnesota and friends across the league.

His son, Murphy, turns 1 on April 22, and a big birthday party is out of the question. A video call with family while Murphy digs into cake with his hands is more likely.

McDonagh typically wouldn’t have seen his family much during this stretch, anyway — without this pandemic, he would have played 10 games over the past three weeks — but being away during a global crisis has made him look forward to seeing them much more.

NHL players don’t have to worry about their employment status, but many of their concerns are the same as everyone else’s.

As are the methods of entertaining themselves. Like seemingly most everyone else in the country, Ryan and Kaylee watched Netflix’s Tiger King. They wrapped up the seven-episode docuseries in two days, and it has been fodder for the Lightning team chat.

They’re also catching up on some Academy Award nominees. The hockey season doesn’t typically provide much time to watch movies.

McDonagh joked that keeping up with his 3-year-old daughter, Falan, and Murphy will keep him in shape for whenever the NHL returns.

But, no, that isn’t his only workout.

He has been starting his days with a walk around the block, accompanied by Falan on her scooter.

The walk offers routine (good for small children, professional athletes and everyone else) and gets his body moving a little bit. It’s also a reminder to take pleasure in the little things.

“They can find joy in the simplest things,” McDonagh said of his children. “Something as simple as a scooter ride or a walk around the block, she gets so excited to do that with me.”

There is another side, too. His kids throw tantrums, like all kids, and McDonagh has a greater appreciation for what his wife does as primary caretaker during the season.

He has also borrowed a stationary bike, dumbbells and exercise bands from the team. He has no idea when or if this season will be finished. But he’d like the chance to.

“There has to be a scenario where the season could be canceled,” McDonagh said. “It would be a huge disappointment. After what our team has done this year and how we set ourselves up, the additions we made, where we were with a handful of games left. You hope there’s a scenario, whether it’s regular season or playoffs, that we can play.”

McDonagh isn’t picky on whether play should pick up with the end of the regular season or go straight into the playoffs. He figures with seven to 10 days of training (possibly more, depending on how long this goes), players can get ready.

“I’d rather just be able to play hockey again as soon as possible,” McDonagh said.

And that, of course, would indicate that the world had come out the other side of the pandemic.


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