Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny would be the first to admit that he is living a rather luxurious lifestyle compared to the vast majority of inhabitants of North America.
Currently based out of his Manitoba ‘hockey home’, the 35-year-old will soon be travelling back to Nevada for the offseason following what Jets fans hope to be a long postseason run.
Despite the fact that he does own two pieces of real estate, Stastny – a second-generation NHL star – has been able to keep himself much more grounded as of late, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc through the many Canadian cities he frequents as a member of the North Division’s Winnipeg Jets.
“For me, it’s just about knowing that I can go to work,” he said candidly when asked about some positives while living through a global pandemic. “Knowing I will be home after practice and see my family, knowing that we have a meal on the table and not having to worry about what the vast majority of not just Canada, not just the United States, but the world has to deal with right now.”
Yes, despite its many positives, playing hockey for a living can also be exceptionally onerous on the body and even the mind. Doing so while being restricted to hotel rooms on the road and one’s own house while back in town can become quite grim.
Luckily for the 16-year NHL veteran, his wife and kids were able to transition back to Winnipeg following the offseason trade that saw Stastny return in time to spend Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and now Easter with those closest to him. In fact, it was the first time in countless years that he had been able to participate in any family activities due to the nature of the shortened 2020-21 regular season schedule.
“Obviously, it was kind of limited as to what you could do, but Thanksgiving was great and then Christmas was even better,” Stastny said back in January. “It was nice because you could just enjoy it and not have to have stress, or the thought of like tonight I can enjoy it but as you’re eating a meal or enjoying some wine it’s, OK I have to get ready for bed because tomorrow we’re travelling in the morning and then we’ve got a game.”
On Wednesday, with the third wave of COVID encapsulating much of Canada amid the vaccine rollout, Stastny spoke at length on just how grateful he still is to be able to play the game he loves despite the happenings of the world.
“I think we are very grateful for what we have,” Stastny said. “We have jobs, our business is still running, where other people are trying to figure out their next meal, trying to figure out what they’re going to do with their next venture. There are very few businesses that can shut down for 15 months. People just think that when things open up again everything will come back to normal, but it’s not going to be like that. Maybe some industries will be popping a little bit, but other places, people will still be timid about it and it will take a couple years for everything to get back to where it was. That’s where we come to realize just how lucky we are.”
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Having skated in all of Winnipeg’s scheduled 45 games to date thus far in the 2020-21 season, the six-foot, 195-pound centre is definitely one of the ‘lucky’ players that has not required stays on the league’s COVID-19 related absence list or contracted the deadly virus. And according to the wise forward, his friends and family have also remained relatively healthy throughout this ordeal.
“Also, being healthy, and just to have my family and friends, I haven’t had many people we know get into a bad situation,” he added. “In that sense I have been fortunate and lucky. We count our blessings every day. We try to help out as much as we can, whether it’s giving time or giving money to different people who need it.”
Not only serving as ‘daddy’ to his little ones back home, Stastny has been filling a veteran leadership role within a team built around young stars. But in casting his gaze further than just his on/off-ice contributions with the Jets, the Quebec product has learned when to stop and just take things in around him.
“Just the fact that we have been able to play is a positive,” he said. “It is what it is; that’s what we signed up for. You get more time with the family, which I love. It could be worse, right?