Auston Matthews and Frederik Andersen have yet to join their Toronto Maple Leafs teammates for Phase 2 of the NHL Return to Play Plan, and there is no pressure for them to get there, Mitchell Marner said.

Auston Matthews and Frederik Andersen have yet to join their Toronto Maple Leafs teammates for Phase 2 of the NHL Return to Play Plan, and there is no pressure for them to get there, Mitchell Marner said.

Auston Matthews and Frederik Andersen have yet to join their Toronto Maple Leafs teammates for Phase 2 of the NHL Return to Play Plan, and there is no pressure for them to get there, Mitchell Marner said.”Not at all,” the Maple Leafs forward said Thursday when asked if there was urgency for the center and goalie to come north. “I mean, all this stuff’s voluntary. They think that it’s better for them to stay at home and do all their workouts and skating there. I’m all for it.”
Matthews and Andersen have been living and training during self-isolation at Matthews’ home in Scottsdale, Arizona, while at least a dozen of their teammates, including Marner, have returned to the ice at the Maple Leafs’ practice facility. Matthews, a center, and Andersen, goalie, have been in Scottsdale since shortly after the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Players returning to Canada from abroad must immediately go into quarantine for 14 days, according to federal government regulations. Matthews and Andersen could come back to Toronto as late as June 26 and finish their quarantine in time for when training camps open July 10 as part of Phase 3.
“Sitting in a condo (in Toronto) and trying to get a bike or something to work there 14 days, it’s a little harder than when you can just be at home and do all the on-ice, lifting and stuff that they’re used to right now,” Marner said. “Whenever they’re ready to come back, I think they’ll be ready for that 14-day thing. So I’d rather them still just be wherever they are right now doing their workouts than be back here sitting around for 14 days.”
Video: TBL@TOR: Marner sets up Matthews’ power-play blast
Marner returned late last week as part of Phase 2, a process where a maximum of six players can work out at any time on a voluntary basis. The Toronto-area native has been on the ice with a group that includes center John Tavares, forward Ilya Mikheyev, defensemen Jake Muzzin and Cody Ceci, and goalie Jack Campbell.
“It felt weird kind of stepping on the ice again skating,” Marner said. “It’s been 10, 11 weeks, something like that. The first time I kind of got back on there, it just felt weird.
“Just getting [dressed] and going out there and skating, it felt great to be back on and it felt great to be out there shooting, handling the puck and kind of just having fun again with it.”
Marner spent part of his quarantine time rollerblading, practicing his shot and dissecting video from Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe, who sent every player a series of clips showing what they do well and areas where they can improve.
The Maple Leafs were 36-25-9 (.579 points percentage) and will enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. They will play the No. 9 seed, the Columbus Blue Jackets (33-22-15, .579 points percentage) in one of eight best-of-5 series. The start date and hub city have not yet been determined.
“Every game is going to be a hard game against that team,” Marner said. “They come out flying every game, they come out playing hard. For us, we know that’s the challenge at hand. Just making sure at that time that we have our legs under us so when we do get to that moment, we know that team is going to be very well conditioned and we’re ready to face that, ready to take that head on.”
In the process, Marner said he is not concerned about any potential safety issues that might arise with COVID-19 cases rising in several U.S. states.
“I think the NHL has everything in control from what I’ve seen with how they’re handling things at the rink,” he said. “I think they’re doing all the right things to make sure that no one is in the wrong or bad place where anything can happen.
“I think they’re going to do everything to protect their athletes and make sure we’re looked after and taking care of us.”

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