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Nate Schmidt gets creative with free time during NHL’s pause

Nate Schmidt is still trying to wrap his head around the chain of events that led the NHL to pause its season.

The closest comparison the Golden Knights defenseman could make is to playing with friends as a kid and being called inside by Mom or Dad.

“A week ago we were doing this and that and playing,” Schmidt said. “And it’s like, ‘OK, you’re done. Stop. Time for dinner. You can’t play no more.’ ”

Schmidt has stayed busy while the league is suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, whether it’s through home improvement projects or completing a jigsaw puzzle. He and his girlfriend also started watching “The Masked Singer.”

To maintain his conditioning, Schmidt said he is doing whatever he can, whether it’s riding a stationary bike or lifting dumbbells at home. Last week included a pool workout.

‘Got to stay sharp’

But the uncertainty of when the season will resume makes it difficult for Schmidt to know how to treat the time off.

“That’s the tough part. You’re trying to figure out what to do, what shape to keep into,” Schmidt said. “I think you’ve got to stay sharp, not so much mentally, but physically. It’s kind of a week by week thing.

”You don’t want to be in your mid-summer workout and all of a sudden we’re back. Because then, all of a sudden you’re going to be slow.”

The Knights endured a whirlwind 36 hours starting when they boarded a plane for Minnesota on March 11 unsure whether the game against the Wild the next day would take place.

Schmidt said he expected to play before getting further direction from the league as concerns about the COVID-19 virus spread.

Instead, the game was postponed March 12 and the Knights boarded a plane home that night.

“We couldn’t believe how we went from two weeks ago, we were playing well, dealing with a couple injuries, but the team’s playing well and winning, and all of a sudden, everything changes,” Schmidt said. “We’ve done some FaceTime group calls just to keep in touch with everybody and it’s just like, ‘What happened a week ago?’

“It’s tough for us because you want to play and we’ve got a good team and you think you’re going to win. At the same time, the health and safety of everybody is more important than the game.”

The league said Monday it was hoping for a training camp period in 45 days before possibly resuming games when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended eight-week ban on gatherings of more than 50 people expires.

Several players and at least one NHL governor backed a proposal that called for training camp and the completion of the regular season in July, followed by the postseason in August and September, free agency and the draft in October and the start of the 2020-21 season in November.

Ready to play

Schmidt preferred to return as quickly as possible once it’s safe to play.

“You talk to other guys and everyone was talking, ‘What do you think we should do?’ And, ‘What do you think’s going to happen?’ Everyone’s got a new idea,” Schmidt said. “You’re going to have to find a way to do this thing, and however it’s going to play out, you’ve just got to be able to be ready for it. I’m really up for whatever. Whenever we can play again, I’m up for whatever.”

Schmidt noted there’s no easy solution with regular-season games remaining on the schedule and multiple teams on the postseason bubble.

The Knights have the advantage of being in first place in the Pacific Division when the pause went into effect and also should be at full strength whenever play resumes.

“Personally, I hope that they give us a few skates and maybe a game or two before you hit the ground running for playoffs,” Schmidt said. “I don’t think it’s going to take long. You get actual practices, but it could be you have a shorter season and you’re racing and teams are jockeying for position. It’s going to be wild. It’s going to be pretty interesting how it all plays out.”

In the meantime, Schmidt said he will continue to pick weeds outside and find things to power wash. The NHL Players’ Association and league encouraged players to continue interacting with fans, meaning Schmidt will be more active than usual on social media.

“For right now, the biggest part is saying, ‘Guys, we’re going to have to be adaptable with this and whatever happens, happens,’” Schmidt said. “For us as players, you want to play.

”The league wants to play and we want to play, but again, we’ve got to be smart about this health-wise.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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