This weekend marked the first of many without hockey after the NHL suspended operations on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an unsettling time for everyone as timelines and expectations continue to change rapidly, but players are finding ways to keep busy in the meantime.
Many have been actively donating money to help compensate for lost wages of arena employees, while several others have given game-worn items to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy's COVID-19 Response Fund auction at athletesrelief.org.
Marc-Andre Fleury, David Perron, Jonathan Huberdeau, Brock Boeser and Max Pacioretty are only a few names among a long list of professional athletes across multiple sports who are participating.
I’m donating a signed Winter Classic Jersey to https://t.co/YqiVvRhaOq. YOU can donate for a chance to win with all proceeds going directly to the CDP’s COVID-19 Response Fund. I’m also challenging other players and… https://t.co/yLjH6i4atc
— John Klingberg (@johnklingberg) March 15, 2020
Players have also been sharing messages on social media for fans, urging them to stay safe during the upcoming weeks.
A message from Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Zadina. ♥️ pic.twitter.com/eGKEkcOjPL
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 16, 2020
Big Zee misses you all and wanted to check in with a message for #NHLBruins fans everywhere.
“Hopefully everyone is safe and healthy...right now, there are more important things [than hockey]."@TDBank_US | #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/AWuXL5Qvdz
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 15, 2020
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 13, 2020
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 13, 2020
With an abundance of free time now at their disposal, players are also giving fans a closer look into their personal lives, and this weekend was a mixed bag of artistic exploration and family time.
Nate Schmidt got in touch with his creative side, as he took us through a little remodelling of his laundry room and entryway. A very golden choice.
Thank goodness for video games at a time like this. Many NHLers picked up the sticks this weekend to show off their skills including noted gamer JT Brown, who live streamed his Fortnite exploits for nearly four hours.
— JT Brown (@JTBrown23) March 15, 2020
Matt Calvert brought back some nostalgia from every hockey tournament ever, playing mini-sticks with the kids. We know the Colorado Avalanche had a few goaltending hiccups before the league suspension, so maybe Calvert is eyeing a position change?
Dale Weise being the ultimate Girl Dad is the content we all need right now. A father of four — Jersey, Hayes, Hunter and Jordana — Weise will definitely have a lot to keep him busy over the next few weeks.
— Dale Weise (@daleweise22) March 15, 2020
Artemi Panarin showed off his craftsmanship by building a wooden birdhouse. He’s so proud and wholesome as he hoists it above his head like the Stanley Cup.
Find you someone that loves you as much as Artemi Panarin loves his new sweet birdhouse pic.twitter.com/1SGxGXk7U7
— Glenny Balls (@Glenny_balls) March 15, 2020
Artemi Panarin built a birdhouse.
Look at how proud he is of his birdhouse. pic.twitter.com/HRmV8Cktj9
— sam//no sports YET! szn! (@saam_brownn) March 15, 2020
Tom Wilson has a brand new puppy named Halle, who will occupy a lot of his time over the next few weeks as well. He sent out this message to fans to stay safe and take care of each other while the season is on pause.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 16, 2020
Players should get comfortable with their newfound free time, as the league decided on Monday to allow them to leave their team’s home city and return home where they will continue to self-quarantine through March 27.
Following that, the league will provide guidance on the potential of training camps opening at the 45-day mark of the CDC’s 60-day directive, meaning the earliest players will see the ice again won’t come until mid-to-late April.
More From Yahoo Sports