BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Mark one name off the Sabers COVID protocol list. Taylor Hall returned to the ice for practice Saturday morning. He was one of the first names added to the list last week, and said he tested positive, but was asymptomatic.
He completed a rehab skate Friday which allowed him to return to the ice. Even though he tested positive, he wasn’t afraid during his time in quarantine.
“I don’t have people at-risk living with me,” Hall said. “I wasn’t around people that are at risk during the time that I was exposed so I wasn’t too worried about it.”
Hall was on the second line at his first practice, just getting back into the swing of things, but he expects to play against the New York Islanders on Monday.
“Your first game is always going to feel may be a little bit rusty after time off but there’s no better way to get back into it then to throw yourself in and just play,” Hall said. “I think with the doctors and the medical staff we still need to chat a little bit and review some things, but I plan on trying to play on Monday.”
He also said the league doesn’t let players workout at home while they’re in quarantine for a positive test, but he’s not worried about being out of shape for his first game back.
“I’m working back into it, but there’s lots of times in the summer where I take seven, eight, nine, 10 days off at a time just to rest and I come back and skate and you don’t always feel great the first day, but overall it eventually comes back pretty quick and I’m not worried about that,” he said.
Hall is taking a similar response to the situation as the rest of the team. He said there were some frustrations, but they’re trying to look forward.
“This is everyone’s first time going through this,” Hall said. “There’s going to be mistakes that are not on purpose. We’re all trying our best and I don’t think anyone deserves anymore blame than anyone else.”
Hall said during his time off he watched a lot of Netflix and played Xbox. He also reflected on his performance in the first 10 games of the year.
“Obviously it’s been awhile since I’ve scored,” he said. “I thought my first six games of the year were very good. I felt comfortable with how I was playing. The last four, not so great, but I still believe in myself and what I can do and how I can help the team and I think you see the weapons you can play with on this team and that’s why I wanted to come play here.”
When it comes to the future of this year’s club, he thinks they’ve got a shot at the postseason.
“We’re going to get it together as a team,” Hall said. “We’re still right in the middle of a playoff race that is there for the taking so I’m excited to be back and hopefully we can win some games here pretty quick.”
He’s of course happy to be back playing hockey again, but he really missed being with the guys during his time away.
“To be around the team, that’s what being a hockey player is all about is yakking it up with the guys in the dressing room before the skate and being out there and laughing when someone messes up. It’s fun to be back and have that camaraderie,” Hall said.
Rasmus Dahlin, Dylan Cozens, Curtis Lazar, Casey Mittelstadt, Brandon Montour, Tobias Rieder, Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe are all still on the COVID protocol list along with coach Ralph Krueger.