Minnesota Wild center Luke Kunin has started working out with some of his teammates again at various rinks around the Twin Cities. It has given them a chance get their legs back underneath them in preparation for what they hope is the NHL’s resumption of the 2019-20 season.
While everyone has been careful, Kunin said, well aware that the coronavirus pandemic remains a real concern, he has been extra cautious, taking all the necessary steps to stay safe.
That’s because Kunin has Type 1 diabetes, and thus would have a higher chance of experiencing serious complications if he contracted COVID-19. That’s always at the forefront of his mind when he arrives at the rink.
“It’s definitely something I think about having to live with Type 1 diabetes,” said Kunin, who has been open about his disease throughout his career. “You know, whether this pandemic was going on or not, I’m going to face some harder things and some more difficult times taking care of myself than others. Obviously, I’m going to do everything in my power, and I know the doctors and the team will as well, to make sure that we don’t get there. We do all the right things to make sure I’m staying healthy along with all the other players, so we don’t have to get to that point.”
Saying that, Kunin made his intentions about returning to play clear: “I don’t think it’s going to stop me from suiting up.”
That’s his main focus now that the Wild have qualified for the 24-team postseason. If the league does indeed return at some point, the Wild will play the Vancouver Canucks in the qualifying round. Whichever team wins that best-of-five series would advance to the playoffs.
“It’s out of my control for the most part, obviously, so I’m preparing and doing all the things as if we’re coming back and playing in the playoffs,” Kunin said. “That’s kind of where I’m at. If we come back, great, I’m really excited to. I want to play some more hockey. I really liked what our team was doing. I guess we’ll see what happens.”
As of right now the NHL has moved on to Phase 2 of its plan, which allows players to gather in small groups at team facilities. Asked whether he will participate in that at some point, or simply continue to work out in smaller groups independently, Kunin was noncommittal.
That said, he expressed his excitement about the potential for Phase 3, which would be the start of training camp, and Phase 4, which would be the resumption of actual games.
As for the the risk of contracting COVID-19 at some point, Kunin hopes it doesn’t become an issue.
“It’s kind of one of those things that if it happens we’ll have to get around it,” he said. “I’ve always taken good care of my blood sugars and am trying to do all the right things in that aspect to make sure that’s not a concern.”