A little less than a month ago, Carter Hart was tending goal for the hottest team in the NHL and preparing to make his first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now, he's sitting at home like the rest of us.
The Philadelphia Flyers goalie has been back in his hometown of Sherwood Park, Alb., just outside of Edmonton, ever since the NHL season was put on hold on March 12. He's been passing the time by trying to stay in shape in case the 2019-20 season does resume.
"Can’t really do much," he told reporters in a conference call on Thursday. "I have a bike in the basement, some free weights and all my bags that I have to use. The strength coach is sending us all programs to do. I have that all to stay in shape... There’s no ice anywhere so I can’t really skate. Just have to maintain our fitness levels off the ice."
Like most players, Hart is desperate to be back playing hockey, but he understands the importance of the current lockdown measures.
"It sucks that we’re not playing hockey right now," he said. "There’s bigger things going on right now in the world. Everybody’s in the same boat. We all have to try and do our part. I know everybody that’s working on the front line, all medical workers, hospital workers, essential service workers, they are all doing great jobs stepping up for us. We have to do our part here and stay inside. Just try to stay healthy and beat this thing, so that we can all resume our normal everyday lives."
There have been a number of rumored plans for the league to finish the current season, including summer hockey, a 24-team playoff format and even neutral site games in North Dakota. Hart has no idea whether any of those will end up a reality, but he's trying to stay ready just in case.
"You hear a ton of rumors out there, but you can’t really know what’s true and what’s not," he said. "I think when the time comes or the decision comes, us as professional athletes have to make sure we find a way to stay ready now. When that time does come, we’re prepared, no matter what the format is."
He said players will need at least a week or two once lockdown measures are lifted to prepare before the season resumes.
"I think everybody’s in the same boat in the sense that if we are to come back, we would probably need a week or two to get back together as a group, kind of get back in sync," he said. "Get back on the ice and feel the puck, kind of get back in hockey shape. Maybe a week or two. I think you don’t want to rush into it right away. When you’ve had an extended break like this, you don’t know how long the uncertainty of how it’s going to be, also comes with risk of injury when you are coming back. Whenever it is when we come back, that we get the proper time to get back into hockey shape so we’re ready to play."
Above all, the second-year goalie is disappointed that the season was stopped with the Flyers playing so well. He was also looking forward to getting his first taste of playoff hockey in the NHL.
"We put ourselves in a good position there down the stretch," he said. "It definitely sucks that we didn’t get to finish it out. It sucks that we are not playing right now in the playoffs. Hopefully, we get that chance here down the line once everything is back to normal."