Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk said the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the NHL season is the most difficult part for the players.
“It’s like running in place,” he said of waiting for the league to give the go-ahead to restart the season, which was suspended March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
He said the situation was “bigger than sports. ...We’re all trying to do our part.”
Van Riemsdyk, 30, spoke to reporters in a conference call Tuesday night from his in-laws’ home in Minnesota. He and his wife are having a home built that isn’t quite finished.
The Central Jersey native said he was optimistic the season would resume at some point, “but we want to guarantee the safety of everyone involved — players, staff, fans, family. We don’t want to do anything at the expense of that.”
For the Flyers, there is a silver lining to the suspended season.
If the season is ever resumed, three of their injured players will be able to return, including van Riemsdyk, who broke his right index finger blocking a shot against Washington on March 4. Defenseman Phil Myers and center Nate Thompson would also be able to return from injuries.
Van Riemsdyk, who has 19 goals this season, said that his finger is healing well and that he will have an X-ray next week and find out what he is cleared to do.
For now, he is not permitted to lift more than a pound and is doing “passive-motion stuff.”
As the Flyers’ player representative, he is keeping his team updated on NHL developments. The league is hopeful of returning in the spring, but it wants its players quarantined until at least April 15.
He called it a “unique situation” and, in terms of corresponding with his teammates , said it “seems a lot like CBA negotiations.”
Van Riemsdyk said the suspended season gives the NHL a chance to “think outside the box” with its playoff format, provided the games return.
“But obviously at this point, everyone’s main concern is the health and safety of families and society in general,” said van Riemsdyk, whose wife, Lauren, is expecting the couple’s first child, a girl.
The Flyers were on a 19-6-1 run when the season was stopped.
“We were doing a lot of good things,” van Riemsdyk said. “... It’s definitely disappointing in that we felt good at what we were building, We want to get a chance to try to continue that at some point.”
Van Riemsdyk has known first-year Flyer Kevin Hayes for a long time and said he has been a big part of the team’s resurgence with his play and his fun-loving personality.