ST. LOUIS — Players have been quarantined now for nearly three weeks since the NHL shut its doors on March 12, but don't think for one moment that means that Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo has been lounging around in town.
"It's a little loud over here, three kids, two dogs, wife," Pietrangelo said via a conference video call Tuesday along with Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi that was set up by the league . "Trying to stay in as much as we can. We've got to be careful, we've got the kids. I'll tell you what, the kids can do some damage in the house in a two-week span if we keep them inside too long."
The league said on Tuesday that the self-isolation period has been extended to April 15, a move that was first set to March 27, then to April 4, to now the middle of April as the globe deals with the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.
So it gives players more time to get in as much down time as they can, work out on their own, or in the 30-year-old Pietrangelo's case, chase down the triple terrors of Evelyn, Oliver and Theodore.
"I was laughing last night because I said there's not enough time in the day," Pietrangelo said. "I'm not even working right now and I can't find enough time to do something by myself. This is the exact same thing, we wake up, eat breakfast, I have my morning coffee, so does my wife. Today, we watched The Good Dinosaur, went upstairs, played a bit. I can hear them running upstairs right now. They're screaming because they want to go outside, so they're going to go outside, then take a nap. Do the same thing in the afternoon, wake up and do it all over again tomorrow.
"I've got a gym at home, so it's not too bad for me, but they take a two-and-a-half hour nap in the afternoon, so that's fine and I get the opportunity to do it. I think the hardest part for me is the unknown of when we're actually going to start, so you're trying to train as if you're going to play, but nobody really knows what's going to happen so you're not trying to overdo it but you're trying to take a break. I think the other guys will agree, it's more just the timeline just so we can kind of figure out what's going tp happen here, whether it's play or not, just so at least we have some sort of guidance."
When there's the opportunity to get some down time while the kids are asleep, Pietrangelo said, "I spend my hour cleaning. Last night, I cleaned and my wife was watching Harry Potter. That pretty much sums things up around here, and then cartoons. That's literally all we have on our TV. I only need like three channels.
"We're big [Chris] Stapleton and (The) Lumineers fans. We don't mind putting that on during the day for the kids. That's pretty much what we've got going on. Books, it seems like I'm like the other guys. Buy them but I don't read them."
Pietrangelo, who is in a contract year and is having arguably his best season as a pro with 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists) in 70 games, said most of the Blues, aside from maybe five or six players, all have remained in St. Louis waiting to see what will happen and when it will happen. That includes defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who Pietrangelo said continues to progress well since he suffered a cardiac episode Feb. 11 during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks in California.
"Bouw's good. He's still here," Pietrangelo said. "His plan was to be here no matter what. I think once he got some clearance from the doctors, and his kids are in school here too, I think once he wraps all that up, he'll try and get home (outside of Edmonton, Alberta) once the doctors feel comfortable. We all kind of live in the same area here, so guys are stopping by seeing how he's doing. He's out and about walking and we'd see him.
"He was down at the rink pretty much every day we were at home and when we were playing. That was kind of a breath of fresh air for us knowing that he's out and about hanging out with the guys. I'm sure he needed a break to get out of the house. He's got three kids too. He probably drops them off at school and he needs a change of pace, but he's good. Probably a bit of a lifestyle change for him. Other than that, he's hanging in there."
Pietrangelo has pretty much been quarantined with his kids and wife Jayne, but should be have to be with a teammate for an extended period of time, which one would he choose and which one would avoid?
"Most, probably [Colton] Parayko because he's that guy on your team that's too nice and he wants to do everything for everybody," Pietrangelo said. "He's probably bring me breakfast in bed and do all the chores. I wouldn't have to do a single thing.
"I have to pick this one carefully. I hope David Perron's watching because he's the loudest guy in the room I've met my entire life. Sometimes you just need a break from him."
Sitting around and having a nice, cordial conversation like this trio did is one thing, something these players are not used to this time of year, so that itch to get back to the rink and competing against one another is what's really missed here.
"Well 'Jos,' it seems like he always scores against us," Pietrangelo said. "I'll take that one away. And Johnny's just a pain in the ass to play against. I've battled a lot with these two guys, more so Johnny because he's a forward. We've had a lot of battles and he's a pain, but you know what, I'd kind of welcome those battles. I think right now we miss those battles. I don't know about you guys, but we can probably use a few of those battles against each other."
Toews added, "I'd say the same thing. I'm up against these two guys most of the time. They're not just great d-men in their own end, but they'll make you have to worry about them in your own end as well. I remember being on the same team as Petro in Toronto for the World Cup and having to stand in front of the net one time and he's letting one rip and I thought it was aimed right at my chin but somehow whistled it right by my shoulder top shelf so I was glad to be on that side of things for once. Like Alex said, there's some great battles in the corners and all over the ice, but I think we've had some great playoff series against each other over the years too where there's been some hatred. That's what the game's all about. At this point, the fans are missing it, we're missing it and obviously we want life to go back to what we're used to."
And Josi said, "Like Petro said, obviously I see a lot more of Johnny as a forward but chasing him around in our zone for I don't know how long and can't take the puck away from him. Just him around then net, it's not fun as a defenseman. You can't really get the puck off him. We had some really good battles against Chicago, some really good playoff series. We all miss it and Petro and obviously St. Louis, it's always a grind. Our games are always a huge grind, but he's just such a presence on the ice. I kind of like to skate the puck up the ice, but skating towards Petro, I just get it deep or shoot on net. It's not really worth it. It's always a great battle against those two guys."
The Blues, who are 42-19-10 with 94 points and in first place in the Western Conference at the time of the stoppage, can only sit and wait like the rest of the league when/if the 2019-20 season can resume with the remainder of the regular season, go straight into the Stanley Cup Playoffs or see it halted altogether.
Being defending Stanley Cup champions and giving themselves a terrific opportunity to perhaps repeat would be the tip of the iceberg as far as frustration for the Blues.
"I think we had some momentum too. It's frustrating," Pietrangelo said. "I don't think any of us are really thinking about ... we're just more worried about ourselves and taking care of our loved ones. I think at the time, it's frustrating, but we're all optimistic that maybe we'll have a chance to play again this year, so maybe we'll have the opportunity. The good thing about the break, if we get one and get back, I'm sure 'Johnny' and 'Jos' are saying the same thing is this time of the year, everybody's banged up. You go through a lot during the year. It could be maybe an opportunity for us to rest up and I'm sure these guys are saying the same thing. If we do get back, it'll be one helluva playoffs."