The rules surrounding the Canadian/American border services agency are ever-changing and continuously inconsistent depending on which side of the border one resides – or in Andrew Copp‘s situation, where he was travelling to/from.
Opting to head home from Winnipeg for his club’s extended holiday break over Christmas, the 27-year-old ran into a sizeable difficulty: he tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“I was definitely a little surprised,” Copp said of his positive test. “It was interesting timing for sure, especially getting back to see friends and family for Christmas. So that kind of put a damper on it.”
Much like that of teammate Kristian Vesalainen – who had family travel over from Finland only to see their hockey-playing son/brother enter COVID protocols the day they arrived – Copp was forced into quarantine until his positive tests turned negative and symptoms subsided.
That, however, was just the beginning of his issues.
With the Canadian government not allowing travellers over the border until a full 14 days have passed following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, the seven-year pro was also stranded in the United States, unable to get back to his club for the team’s post-holiday break practices.
Luckily, the NHL intervened and cancelled a number of Jets’ home game dates due to the province’s current public health order, prohibiting large gatherings, such as the ones that would occur at Canada Life Centre for Jets home contests.
“It ended up being kind of a good thing in the long run, really,” he chuckled. “I didn’t miss any games. I felt I was able to use that break a little bit to rest and kind of get a mental reset almost. Try to come back a little fresher in the head. I was able to train a good portion of the time, it was good to see the changing quarantine rules. So it ended up being a blessing, really. Honestly.”
That helped Copp, who actually did not end up having to sit out any game action, despite his seemingly dire situation.
“I touched base with Dave (Lowry) just a few times, he was checking on how I was feeling and if I was ready to go,” Copp said of his coach. “The conversations with the guys were more just how their Christmas was. The practices were harder, I guess. Longer. I knew that after kind of being stuck at home, just kind of doing your own workouts for five or six days that I was going to have push relatively hard on the ice. I was able to do that pretty well.”
Copp did, however, work some magic at his alma mater and used the advanced training facilities at the University of Michigan, while catching up former coaches and trainers currently with the United States’ National Team Development Program.
“I was lucky enough to be in an area where I have some great alternatives available to me with the US program and Michigan and some of the sports science equipment that they have to get me back up to where I needed to be to play an NHL game yesterday,” he expanded.
In an effort to get himself back into game mode, Copp took advantage of Michigan’s offering, allowing him to get his body ready to roll in time to meet his teammates in Nevada for Sunday’s afternoon matinee with the Golden Knights.
“It was super nice,” he said. “Both them and the US program, some of the experienced coaches that I use are with the US program, an old one from Michigan I kind of keep in touch with, too. I used both of them to kind of construct my workouts. Obviously their facilities are top-notch with USA Hockey. The gym area there is unbelievable, the skates that we’ve had. And then obviously Michigan too being right in my backyard, Same sort of thing, always open, being able to skate with some really high-end players the last couple days before I came to meet the team. Having those options for me are very nice. The openness they have for players and guys just trying to come and get better and get what they need out of it is awesome, and I think a big part of their success.”
Speaking of success, Copp managed to actually score for the Jets in his return to the lineup – and the team’s return to action following the extended holiday break – potting his eighth goal of the season, and registering what just so happened to be his first point in seven games.
With the focus now shifted to preparation for visits to Arizona and Colorado, Copp knows he must remain on task and ready for how his new bench boss chooses to utilize him.
“You saw some of the minutes last night,” he said of his and his teammates’ usage against Vegas. “Maybe you’ll be able to play some of those top guys a little bit more. I mean, these are important games for us no matter what. Like Harks said, we’ve got to start collecting some points here and get ourselves in a better playoff position. I think there’s going to be a sense of urgency no matter what.”
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