Washington Capitals center Lars Eller is one of 16 NHL players a part of the NHL’s Return to Play committee. The committee consists of representatives from the NHL and NHLPA that meet and try to agree on broader concepts about how the league should conduct its season during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun first reported the news on Twitter, Tuesday night.
Players that I hear are on the Return to Play committee:
David Backes, Darren Helm, David Savard, Justin Faulk, Lars Eller, Sam Gagner, Justin Abdelkader, Ian Cole, Zach Hyman, Ron Hainsey, Claude Giroux, Ryan Dzingel, Andrew Copp, Alex Biega, Chris Kreider, Mark Scheifele. https://t.co/wC73SwMf79
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 17, 2020
Eller is a rare athlete that has education and experience fighting the disease through science. During the NHL’s pause of the season, the Danish skater worked with Healthe, a technology company he invests in, to donate a Cleanse Portal to a DC homeless shelter called Central Union Mission. The Cleanse Portal inactivates bacteria and viruses on skin, clothing, and goods. It looks like a metal detector, but instead of measuring magnetic waves, it emits far-UVC light, which the company says “inactivates over 90% of contaminants” in 20 seconds.
“There has been a lot of focus on supporting frontline workers and first responders in this pandemic, and that’s really important, but I want to make sure the homeless community isn’t overlooked,” Eller said. “Many of us are fortunate to be able to stay home and avoid exposure to the virus, but there are a lot of people in our city who don’t have access to a safe haven like that. I’m honored to be able to donate this Portal to Central Union Mission and help reduce the risk that their employees and guests are exposed to COVID-19 and other harmful pathogens.”
Eller initially got connected with them through circadian lighting which helps regulate the sleep cycle to promote athletic recovery.
The Stanley Cup champion also has experienced the less glamorous part of the NHL’s bubble during the 2020 playoffs, having to quarantine for days after leaving Toronto for the birth of his son Alexander in DC. Eller was forced to stay in a hotel room away from his teammates before he was deemed COVID free.
“It wasn’t particularly fun sitting in your room for four days, missing out,” Eller said. “Not being able to be with family or help your team. You’re in sort of a no man’s land, not doing anything good. That was tough, but that made it that much better to get out.”
While alone, Eller read books, watched a bunch of television, FaceTime’d his family, and worked out.
“I had a couple of dumbbells in my room, elastic bands,” Eller said. “(Capitals) strength coach (Mark Nemish) gave me some workouts so I was doing one hour of actual work every day. But besides that, a lot of watching of hockey games and reading, trying to not look at screens the whole day. It’s tough.”
The NHL is currently targeting January 1 as the start date for next season, but with the coronavirus pandemic exploding out of control in the United States, it’s unclear how realistic that is. Recently, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a conference that the league is exploring temporary hubs and divisional realignment for next season.
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