The NHL’s 2019-20 season is on pause and Sophie Nugent-Hopkins is happy.
Why? Well, it doesn’t hurt that the golden retriever’s dad, Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is home full-time.
“She’s the only one that’s probably happy that the little quirky things going on,” he said on a video call with reporters on Thursday. “She gets lots of intention and lots of walks right now so she’s been happy.”
It’s a moment of respite in what has been a tumultuous time.
Before games were postponed back on March 12, the veteran of nine seasons, who was primarily used as a winger this year, was on pace for a career year with 61 points in 65 games.
“It does open up a little bit more offensively for you [moving over to the wing],” he said. “When you’re center you’ve always got to make sure you’re coming back and playing deep in your own zone and you’re kind of catching up to the rush … whereas a wing, you’re usually the one leading with the puck or at least supporting the guy who’s leading with the puck. As soon as we get it we have that offensive mindset.
“It was definitely a lot of fun and I think it did kind of open up things more offensively for me.
With the likes of Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the addition of James Neal, Edmonton was also poised for its first postseason since 2017 — and only the second appearance since 2006.
“Having fresh guys in, who’ve played on winning teams before, I think it kind of changed the mentality [in the room],” he noted for an Oilers squad second in the Pacific Division. “We had a lot of confidence in our group this year. … I think, for players like me who have been here for a long time it’s, it’s nice to have some fresh faces and some positive energy coming in after a couple off years.”
The 2019-20 season has definitely been a solid one for the Oilers. Now, the only question is when — or if — their great season will be resumed. Numerous scenarios and timelines have been discussed, from finishing the regular season first to just jumping right into the playoffs.
“At this point, it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around it,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “We’re taking it week by week, almost day by day. We want to get back to playing. It’s just a matter of figuring out what this is all gonna look like in the next couple of months here so it’s tough to say how late we would play, but we want to get back to it. It’s definitely tough to speculate right now just based on it’s the start of April and that seems like a long way away right now, but kind of take it day by day, I guess.”
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