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Wild's Kevin Fiala keeps training in anticipation of season's resumption

Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Hockey

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Fiala arrived at Xcel Energy Center for morning skate on March 12 as one of the NHL's hottest players. He had 14 goals and 26 points over an 18-game stretch as the Wild worked itself into playoff contention.

Still, the 23-year-old winger had an inkling that night's game against Vegas might not happen.

The NBA had just suspended its season after a player had tested positive for COVID-19 -- an illness caused by a novel coronavirus that was declared a pandemic earlier in the day. Fiala hoped maybe the NHL could survive one more week.

But after taking one step into the Wild locker room, he was confronted with a much different reality.

"They told me to turn around," Fiala recalled. "I actually didn't even change. Just take a U-turn home."

That afternoon the NHL paused its season as much of the sports world shuttered amid an outbreak that was spanning the globe. Players were instructed to self-quarantine and while the logistics were unclear, the hope was the league would restart at some point.

 

Now, more than two weeks later, that potential remains vague.

Fiala had been hunkering down in Minneapolis with his girlfriend, Jessica Ljung, and their Pomeranian, Foxi, but with the NHL in a holding pattern, they decided to leave Thursday for Sweden, where Fiala spends his summers.

And despite all the uncertainty, the native of Switzerland is focused on getting back to work and resuming a prolific season that was abruptly halted.

"It doesn't really matter how, just that we are in and we take it from there," he said. "I'm still positive about that we are going to play this season, and I really, really hope so.

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