Hockey is back — even if things feel a little different. In the before-times, Capitals practices were open to the general public: to watch, cheer, get autographs, and maybe catch a stray puck. But even as the team announced their training camp at the beginning of the year, they included a reminder that camp would be closed to the public this season, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The media was limited to only 12 spots on each day of training camp. After checking in at the front door of Medstar Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday and having my temperature scanned, I went upstairs to the balcony above the rink. Each reporter was assigned one taped-out square to stand in. Two panes of glass and netting separated us from the players.
On the ice, things looked mostly unchanged. There were still plenty of close body-checks and spitting. New head coach Peter Laviolette wore a black face mask that he pulled down occasionally to blow a whistle and shout instructions.
On the bench, the usual mess of Gatorade bottles were suddenly in an orderly line. Each water bottle and Gatorade bottle was taped with the player’s number, placed next to a neatly-folded towel.
The players practiced in two groups for most of camp before cuts were made. Group A, which contained the players who will generally-speaking make the squad and Group B, which contained the team’s younger prospects and potential members of the taxi squad. A staff member sprayed down the boards with disinfectant between groups.
COVID-19 precautions at Caps training camp on Wednesday: a staff member spraying down the boards with disinfectant before the next group practiced. pic.twitter.com/o2nCdWhQCO
— elizabeth (@of_elk) January 9, 2021
After practice, media interviewed players over video-call platform Zoom.
Zdeno Chara, who barely fits in the Zoom room, reiterated that he is very excited to be a Washington Capital. pic.twitter.com/Nf1I4Jj1ND
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 6, 2021
As with many aspects of life, it’ll be interesting to see what COVID-19 practices will carry over into a life post-COVID-19.
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