It’s surreal to be writing this post at home on a Monday morning when I should be at the Omaha Lancers’ offices in Ralston Arena, starting a new week after a 2-game home series against the U.S. National Team Development Program’s Under-18 squad. I should be preparing to fly on Wednesday to the NTDP’s home base in Plymouth, Michigan for their annual “40-man” national selection camp, where the best 2004-born players in the USA were set to arrive this week for several days of competition, 23 of whom would be chosen at the end to wear the red, white and blue for the next two years of the national team.
Instead, I’m nowhere near the rink. The games didn’t happen, though the NTDP 18s arrived in Omaha Thursday morning (to channel Cyndi Lauper- they drove all night)- we saw them all briefly at a local restaurant before Team USA was told to get back on the bus and make the 11-hour drive back to Michigan. Shortly afterwards, we all got word that the USHL, like all major professional sports leagues in North America currently in season, was suspending operations. As such, the NTDP camp was cancelled and the 2020-21 Under-17 team will be selected by the USA Hockey/NTDP operations staff based on their midget AAA/prep/high school performances without the benefit of bringing them in to compete with and against one another.
We are in uncharted territory to be sure, and there is no way of knowing what the next step will be. But, there will be a next step. I don’t know what that will look like, and therefore, like so many others around the world, I can only wait.
Unless you are a direct descendent of Rip Van Winkle, you know what’s going on- our lives, our normalcy has all come to a grinding halt, as COVID-19/Coronavirus has forced a sea change in our routine. Familiar terms like quarantine- once usually reserved for the big screen and rare cases- have become routine. New terms like social distancing has become the norm, as the virus’s impact around the world, especially in countries like Italy, is now keenly being felt in North America. The socio-economic impact of the pandemic cannot be understated, and so we find ourselves now going without things we have long taken for granted.
I’m no doctor, so I’m not about to use this platform to dispense medical advice. However, we are at a point in time in our modern history where normal behaviors must be modified and we need to take extra steps to make ourselves aware of what is going on and act accordingly. We’re seeing it not only with the suspensions of sports leagues and cancellations of major competitions, but also in the closing of restaurants, bars, theaters, beaches…even Disney World and certain retailers, with more sure to follow suit.
With so many around the word directly and indirectly impacted by the virus and its rapid spread, we need to use the time we have to come together, be responsible and ultimately, respect that it is not about us as individuals- our own wants and desires need to be secondary to making an effort to limit the impact of COVID-19 and containing it as much as we can so that we don’t overwhelm our hospitals and medical systems with people who require treatment on top of everyone else who requires medical care.
Sports, even though it is my livelihood, have to take a necessary backseat while we figure out how to best deal with this crisis. We’ll figure out how to adapt and adjust our duties and responsibilities while on this hiatus, but in the meantime, just wanted to let everyone know that were in this together and with more time on my hands, might be figuring out how to make this blog a little more active and relevant again…at least in the short term. If there is anything I can do on here to help pass the time, let me know. If nothing else, chances are, we might be able to get the 3 Amigos back together…I can’t speak for Dom or Reed, but I’m pretty sure that we all have more time on our hands now than any of us wanted.
In closing, be safe- I firmly believe that this too, shall pass. What we do in the interim will have a profound impact on how much we are affected and how quickly we can recover. I know that in my experiences with the hockey community, we’re famous for coming together and taking care of one another- this should be no different.