Editor's note: Sarah McLellan is covering the Wild during the NHL postseason in her birthplace of Edmonton, but first must spend 14 days confined to her hotel room. She'll write regularly to her father, who now lives in Arizona, with an update on life with limited freedom.
You want to watch a hockey game?
We can do that now.
Exhibition action starts today, the first time a live NHL game will happen since March 11. A day later, the coronavirus pandemic shut down the league.
The Wild plays its lone exhibition game Wednesday afternoon against Colorado. I won’t be able to attend in person since I’ll still be in quarantine, but I’m planning to catch it on my computer. It’ll be the first Wild game I’ve watched since the last one I covered March 8 in Anaheim – a 5-4 overtime win for the Wild over the Ducks. It was a meaningful game at the time, because the Wild rallied and Kevin Fiala had another terrific performance that included the overtime winner, but I never imagined the game’s significance would continue to grow.
I think the last NHL game I watched on TV from this season was on the night of March 11. I remember having a game on in the background as I scrolled Twitter, reading the latest updates on the NBA and how a player had tested positive for COVID-19 and basketball was suspending its season. I wondered what that meant for the NHL, and I was curious if the hockey I had on the TV would be the last I’d see for a while.
That turned out to be the case, since the next morning the NHL followed suit and paused its season, and I immediately felt this void – and not just because my job was affected; sure, I had to cancel upcoming road trips, and I was tasked with reporting on a story in which the questions lapped the answers. But I also mourned the fact I could no longer just turn on a game, which had been a source of comfort for what feels like my entire life.
I still remember being a kid sitting on the carpet in the living room and you explaining the game from the couch behind me. You took me to the first game I attended live and most of the ones that followed. Taking in games at the arena was so exciting as a kid, because it was this big production – a drive into Edmonton from the suburbs with usually a stop for supper beforehand. But my favorite place was on the couch next to you in front of the TV.
We watched every game, making sure we were home in time for puck drop. And if we couldn’t watch the game live – if I had a soccer game on the weekend – we’d record it on VHS. I even remember one time you dropped off a video tape to me of a Hockey Night in Canada game that just ended while I was babysitting on a Saturday night. “Hot off the presses,” you said.
With memories like that, it’s really no wonder watching hockey and writing about it became my career. It was the best part of my childhood, and I wanted to keep reliving it.
And I have you to thank for that.
So, Dad, how about we watch a game together later just like we used to?
I’ll FaceTime you.