Summerside's Noah Dobson on living in New York during COVID-19, and his 'eventful' rookie season in the NHL
'It's a lot bigger than sports, what's going on right now, so you just got to keep a positive outlook'
It's been a memorable rookie season in the NHL for Summerside's Noah Dobson, but not in the way he had envisioned when he broke camp with the New York Islanders back in October.
Yes, he scored his first goal as a pro and yes, his team was in the thick of a playoff race. But now, instead of playing hockey before thousands of fans in a loud arena, he's shooting pucks at a street hockey net in Dennis Seidenberg's driveway.
And, like most everyone else, practising physical distancing while waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to end.
"It's definitely been eventful, to say the least," Dobson said in a phone interview. "In the middle of April you're usually right in the heat of the playoffs, playing important hockey and now we're just kind of sitting at home waiting to see what happens."
Dobson, 20, lives with Seidenberg, a retired NHLer, and his family at their Long Island home during the hockey season. When the season was postponed in mid-March, Dobson decided to stay in New York instead of returning to P.E.I.
New York has been one of the hardest hit cities in the world for COVID-19.
"It's pretty quiet everywhere throughout New York with all the cases," he said.
"It's pretty crazy to see a difference from being one of the busiest cities in the world and all the traffic and stuff to basically nobody on the road. It's really different to see."
'Pretty strict' with social distancing
Dobson had played in half of New York's 68 games, scoring a goal and six assists. Dobson said he was just starting to hit his stride when it was announced the season would be put on hold.
Obviously we're all understanding and know that it's all out of our control.— Noah Dobson
"That was kind of the frustrating part about having the stoppage, when I felt I was playing the best I played all year, but obviously it's a lot bigger than sports, what's going on right now, so you just got to keep a positive outlook."
Dobson said he spends a lot of time video-chatting with friends and family on P.E.I., working out in the basement gym and playing Ping-Pong in the garage.
Sometimes he'll venture out for a run or to get groceries.
"The rules and laws are pretty strict around here with social distancing," he said.
"Even now with grocery stores, they made it mandatory, you won't be allowed in the stores unless you have a mask on so it's gotten pretty serious around here."
Dobson, like the rest of the hockey world, is holding out hope the season can somehow be salvaged. He's also hoping he can get home to P.E.I. at some point this summer.
"It's tough to say right now what's going to happen," he said. "Obviously we're all understanding and know that it's all out of our control."