Josh Bailey addresses the media following the first day of on-ice availability.
Josh Bailey was eager to get back on the ice on Monday, as the team opened Northwell Health Ice Center for Phase 2 small-group workouts.
Bailey was joined by Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck and Thomas Greiss, who all took the ice for the first time since the NHL pause on March 12.
"It was nice to just get back in there," Bailey said. "It's a familiar place for us and nice to get back on the ice too. It's been a while and we're comfortable out there, so it was nice to feel the puck. We didn't go too crazy on Day 1, but it was fun to get out there."
Bailey, who addressed reporters on a Zoom call, compared it to the informal August skates that usually precede September training camp. Phase 2 workouts are non-contact skates, part of the health and safety regulations enacted by the league.
"We just went through some puck handling, pretty basic stuff that we would do with a group of that many guys anyhow," Bailey said. "After three months there's a little bit of rust, so you just get out there and get your legs underneath you."
Bailey said he plans to skate three times a week and increase the scope of his on-ice activity. After a couple months of riding a Peloton and off-ice workouts, he was relieved to back on the ice.
"There's no substitute for skating," Bailey said.
Bailey, who stayed on Long Island since the NHL pause, said he was tested for COVID-19 over the weekend and on Monday prior to skating. His group has room for two more skaters before it reaches the six-man limit. Bailey said he had no apprehension about returning to the facility.
Monday was a slight return to normalcy for Bailey, who called it a "good first step." He's optimistic the season will return, but said he hasn't thought too much about a qualifying-round series against the Florida, or playing in a hub city, aside from being separated from his family.
"It'll definitely be different," Bailey said. "No matter how it all comes together, when, how, if, whatever the case may be. It won't be what we are accustomed to. But when you're with the team it kind of gives you that feeling of normalcy."
Bailey is hoping that more normalcy is to follow - and that the Canadian border opens so his family can meet his newest daughter - as New York State begins to reopen. The timeline for that is up in the air, but at least for now, his skates are back on the ice.