Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh doesn't care if the National Hockey League season resumes with the remainder of the regular season games or skips ahead to the playoffs.
He just wants the season, in any format, to resume.
The Lightning have as good a chance as any team in the League to have a special end to the 2019-20 season, and the veteran blueliner doesn't want that opportunity to disappear.
A player only gets so many of them throughout his career after all. And McDonagh is still seeking his first Stanley Cup.
"If (the season) were to be cancelled, it would be a huge disappointment," the 30-year-old McDonagh said. "For what our team has done this year and how we've set ourselves up and the additions that we've made, just where we were at the point in the season, only a handful of games left, trying to gear up for hopefully a long playoff run and a successful playoff run, you just hope and you pray there's some scenario out there where we can finish whether it's the regular season or the playoffs and we get a chance to go out there as a group and as this team and see what we can accomplish here. We were really excited about how our year was going. We added some great guys. I think we'd want to be able to see how far this team can go. That's the scenario I'm hoping for."
Like everybody, McDonagh is adjusting to the new normal while the NHL season remains on pause due to the coronavirus. McDonagh has been training at home, readying his body and his mind in hopes the season will resume and the Lightning can return to the ice. For the first couple of weeks after the pause, McDonagh was able to go to AMALIE Arena to receive treatment for a lower-body injury that forced him to miss 14 games from February into March before he was able to play the final two contests prior to the pause. Since then, he's been training at home, using workout apps in his home gym to stay in shape and relieve stress.
"Our training staff kind of had a big delivery day to try and provide as much stuff for guys to have at home," McDonagh said. "They delivered bikes and some bands and dumbbells just to have some things and some tools on hand here if you didn't already to different guys in their homes. Like most people, you try and get a little routine going. With my three year old, we've kind of got this morning routine where after breakfast we go on a little walk and she has her little push scooter and kind of start my day there and get the body moving a little bit. Now that I've got a bike here, mix in some bike rides and some upper-body and lower-body workouts with the dumbbells and bands and different things that we have. All in all, it's just mostly moving and chasing these little ones around here and that's plenty enough to keep me in shape here as we continue on in this pause."
McDonagh has two children, three-year-old daughter Falan and son Murphy, who will turn one on April 22. He and his wife Kaylee try to create daily structure for their two children, giving them play time early in the day on their playground so they stay active and then mixing in learning activities like puzzles and coloring books throughout the day to help the children in their development.
Getting to spend more time with his family is one positive he can draw from the difficult situation the pandemic has created. It's also given him a newfound appreciation for the daily challenges his wife endures while he's with the Lightning during the hockey season.
"I try to find the joy in some of the simplest things and I think that's a good message that my wife and I have tried to take to heart that something as simple as going for a scooter ride or walk around the block, (Falan) gets so excited every day just to do that with me now. We've done it now for a couple weeks in a row. It's fun to see the joy on their face and really makes you love them even more than you did before," McDonagh said. "It's been tough at times, no doubt. They have their temper tantrums like all kids do, but you definitely appreciate my wife being around them all season when we go on the road, all the effort that she has to put into keeping the family together and getting everybody where they're supposed to be when I'm not around, it's a ton of work and you definitely appreciate that aspect more from my wife."
McDonagh said when life returns to normal, he's looking forward to doing things he used to take for granted. Going out to dinner. Walking around the mall. Enjoying the outdoor parks around the Tampa Bay area. Interacting with people at the rink like trainers, coaches, equipment staff and of course teammates. Seeing his family back in Minnesota in person again rather than via FaceTime or text message.
And when the hockey season resumes, he's looking forward to seeing just how far this talented Lightning team, ranked second in the Eastern Conference and tied for third overall in the NHL at the time of the pause, can go.
"Doesn't matter if we had to finish the regular season or jump right into the playoffs, we would make the best of it," McDonagh said. "There's no one thing I'd rather do. I'd rather just be able to play hockey again as soon as possible, get this group back together and get everybody rolling and be able to play again in front of our fans would be awesome, especially at this time of the year when playoffs are so exciting and end of the season stretch run is so exciting. This is what you work all offseason and the beginning part of the season to set yourself up for. So if we could finish any kind of hockey season, that would be ideal for us."