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Capitals’ Eller On COVID-19, Isolation In Anaheim: ‘I Tried A Little Bit Of Everything To Stay Sane’

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Washington Capitals center Lars Eller.

ARLINGTON, V.A. — After a bout with COVID-19, Washington Capitals center Lars Eller said he’s feeling good — and saner — as he returned to the ice.

The Danish center entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol while on the Capitals’ West Coast Swing, prior to puck drop against the Anaheim Ducks. Eller then had to quarantine in California for 10 days and missed six straight games for Washington after testing positive.

“I felt like I had a mild flu or a cold for about three days, but I never had like, high fever or excessive breathing problems or anything like that.”

He did say the isolation did prove difficult, and that he found a lot to do to pass the time, including watching TV, movies and reading books. His favorite show to watch was Succession, and he also read a Mark Messier book. It was difficult at times, though, to stay sane.

“I mean, the quarantine is far worse than the disease itself, at least in my case. It’s not healthy to sit inside for a long time… I think that’s pretty unhealthy for anyone,” Eller explained. “So that wasn’t fun. But now I’m out and feeling good and happy to be back on the ice.”

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On the fourth day, Eller said he got back into training and tried to get back into a regular schedule after feeling better, which helped him navigate the waters a bit better. He had dumbbells and gear in his room and worked out in the mornings. He took another COVID-19 test on the fifth day but again tested positive.

“[I tried] a little bit of everything to try to stay sane,” Eller said, adding, “I tried to do somewhat of a schedule to stay sane, because the not knowing, at least try to say, ‘Okay, this time slots, I’m going to try to do this and this.’ And that helps the mind a little bit, not being so restless. But it’s still challenging because you feel like you’re mostly wasting time when you should be somewhere else, right? I hope I don’t have to do it again anytime soon.”

Eller said he was surprised by the positive test, especially because he hadn’t been anywhere except at home and around his teammates. He believes that he may have picked it up on the Detroit and Columbus road swing in early November.

“No one else on the team got it, nobody in my house got it. I don’t know, I have no idea where I got it from… it’s really odd. I’ve just been extremely unlucky, I guess.” Eller explained.

After returning to D.C., No. 20 got to hit the ice on Thanksgiving. He was in a no-contact jersey. On Saturday, he was a full participant in practice and wearing a regular jersey while centering the second line alongside Tom Wilson and Daniel Sprong and Connor McMichael, who were interchanging on the left side.

Eller believes that he is “ready to take the next step,” and head coach Peter Laviolette said he is “hoping” Eller can return against Carolina on Monday, but there is no definitive answer on whether or not he’ll draw back in.

RELATED: Eller Returns To Top-6 For Capitals

For Eller, getting back into the swing of things hasn’t been too difficult, but he did note it may take a second to adapt back to the full speed of a live game.

“My lungs have been feeling fine, but the game is of course a different level. So maybe it takes a game or two to find, you know, that touch again,” Eller said. “But it’s mostly the timing. I’m not too worried about my legs and lungs. It’s mostly getting your head back to that speed again after not doing anything on the ice for a while.”
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