Predators' Ryan Ellis goes from defenseman to handyman during quarantine
The stop to the NHL season has meant hammer time for Ryan Ellis.
And electrician time. And plumber time. And carpenter time.
These days, hockey player falls pretty far down on the list of vocations for the Predators defenseman, who returned with his wife, Katilyn, and their 1-year-old son to their house in Canada about two weeks after the season was indefinitely paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ellis' in-laws are staying with them during the quarantine, he said, giving him plenty of opportunity to sharpen his handyman skills with his wife's father, who is a general contractor.
"He's teaching me the tricks of the trade," Ellis said during a video conference call Thursday. "Just trying to pick up odds and ends jobs that I never had a chance to do. ... It's not the greatest circumstance, but you try to make what's best of the situation."
That has included building a "couple of things" and redoing the cabana in the backyard of the home the family purchased last year.
The time away from hockey also has allowed Ellis to witness some special moments. His son recently began walking, meaning less rest for Ellis.
And more peace of mind.
"That's been a process, one, follow him around and two, make sure he's not falling," Ellis said. "I'm trying to make the best of the situation. It's not easy for anyone, but if you can stay as positive as you can ... get things done and stay sane through the process, that's the best way to go about it."
Ellis has been trying to keep his legs under himself, too, while the pause continues to linger.
He works out every morning, has a goal set up in his driveway, where he regularly rollerblades, and puts to use the Pilates reformer machine he recently purchased to help him with "fine tuning, stretching and being more elastic."
Ellis said he's regularly on conference calls with the players association, and he thinks players will need at least three to four weeks of training camp to return to game shape, if the season were to resume.
"With each passing week everything gets more and more difficult," Ellis said. "The timeline starts getting smaller and smaller. Everything depends on how the virus plays out."
One such proposal on the table would be for teams to play at a selected number of neutral sites, potentially keeping them quarantined away from their families for several weeks.
Ellis said he sees both sides: one that players want to "earn their paychecks and play the game we love" and the other that involves the safety of everyone.
"I think it'd be easier for guys without families or single guys to kind of go on quarantine and enjoy that process as much as you can," Ellis said. "But it would be tough being a father myself.
"It would be tough to live through FaceTime in that situation. But you have to weigh the pros and cons on each side and what's important for you and our family."
The ice had been a stranger to Ellis for 20 games this season already, after he was sidelined with a concussion thanks to a hit to the head from the Stars' Corey Perry during the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
The 29-year-old returned in earnest, though, under new coach John Hynes. He recorded 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 10 games after returning, picking up where he left off before the injury when he and Roman Josi were leading the way.
"Any time anyone comes back you're a little nervous or a little hesitant, so I stuck to playing (defense)," Ellis said. "After that the lungs came back, the legs came back and thought I was playing well into this break we're in.
"If we do restart we can pick up where we left off and carry the momentum we had into the remainder (of the season)."
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