Benched: Red Wings Justin Abdelkader on the possible NHL return, quarantine and his teammate’s golf game

DETROIT – When will the NHL return to action? Nothing is set in stone, but Pierre Lebrun of TSN reports the NHL and the NHLPA is working on a 24-team playoff format and talks will continue in the next few days.

The Red Wings were in Washington March 12th getting ready for a game with the Capitols when they heard the season was suspended. Justin Abdelkader said there weren’t any long goodbyes with teammates because they thought they’d be back soon.

“We thought it would be a week or two or a month the most and we’d be back practicing at least,” Abdelkader said. “Before you know it, it’s a month and now two. We are sitting here wondering if we will finish regular season. Will there be a playoff?”

Those are questions all the players have. They’re usually directed at Luke Glendening, the NHL Players Association Player representative for the Wings. Abdelkader is his assistant.

For the record, Abdelkader wants to finish the regular season.

“I know the NHL and players association is putting together a few plans to get back,” he said. “I still think if we can do it safely where we can get testing and keep everyone safe, it would be great to be back to the ice.”

In the meantime, Abdelkader has been spending time with his wife and his nearly two-year-old son, Jaxon.

“My son is into Match Box cars right now,” Abdelkader said. “It’s fun to see him enjoy those. We’ve been watching a lot of Disney movies.”

Abdelkader has also been reading to kids virtually. Usually he picks the book he wrote, Shoot for the Goal, the Justin Abdelkader story.

The Abdelkaders recently donated meals to feed the employees at St Joseph Mercy Oakland.

“Frontline workers are the ones sacrificing and putting their lives on the line,” he said. “They’re the true heroes in this time.”

Now that the weather is warming up, you’ll catch Abdelkader out on the golf course, socially distancing of course. He said of the Wings players, Anthony Mantha just might be the best.

“He hits the ball like 340 yards,” Abdelkader said. “It’s like his slap shot. He can hit the ball a long way.”

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Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.