MINNEAPOLIS - There’s still more questions than answers when it comes to the NHL and coming back to play amid the Coronavirus pandemic, and Minnesota Wild center Luke Kunin has plenty to consider himself when the league makes that call.
Kunin, 22, has Type 1 diabetes and would be considered high risk when it comes to potentially getting Covid-19. The Centers for Disease Control says it’s a chronic condition where the pancreas doesn’t make insulin or makes very little, which means Kunin has to be extra aware of his blood sugar.
Kunin understands the risks of playing with Type 1 diabetes amid a global health pandemic, and says he’s ready to play if the NHL deems it’s safe to return.
“I’m going to do everything in my power, I know the doctors and the team will as well, to make sure that we don’t get there. We do all the right things to make sure I’m staying healthy, along with all the other players, so we don’t have to get to that point. I don’t think it’s going to stop me from suiting up,” Kunin told reporters late last week on Zoom.
He works regularly with an endocrinologist and team doctors to make sure his health is a top priority, and doing whatever he can to avoid getting Covid-19.
“I’ve always taken it upon myself to really be on top of it, take care of myself and really put myself in the best position to play at my best and feel at my best. In talking with my endocrinologist and the team, they’ve always done a great job in helping me out any way necessary with having Type 1 Diabetes and making sure I’m feeling comfortable in the right ways,” Kunin said. “After talking with all them, I’m feeling really good and there’s not many concerns at all for me.”
Kunin had 15 goals and 16 assists through 63 games as the Wild was one point out of a playoff spot on March 11 when the NHL stopped play due to Covid-19. It’s been more than three months, and it seems like hockey’s return is getting closer.
The NHL announced recently that the 24 teams involved in playoff when hockey resumes can start, provided teams are abiding by state and local Covid-19 guidelines, on July 10. Kunin has largely stayed in Minnesota the last three months, He ventures up to a cabin on Crosslake to get away, and if he does leave the state, it’s to visit family in St. Louis, Mo.
Kunin has participated in small-group skating sessions since ice rinks reopened in Minnesota with Eric Staal, Zach Parise and Jordan Greenway.
“It’s moving in the right direction, we’re getting a lot of positive feedback, a lot of good information as the weeks go on, which is very exciting. I can’t wait to get back, I think this is the longest you’ve gone without playing. A lot of us are itching to get back,” Kunin said.
He also has kept busy during the quarantine with a new puppy, named Rocco, who was sleeping peacefully by his side while he spoke with reporters. They go on daily walks and Kunin says he loves being a dog owner, but there have been rough days.
He recalled coming home from a recent skate to find cardboard boxes that had been delivered ripped to shreds.
“I wasn’t too happy about cleaning that up,” Kunin said. “It’s just fun, he’s been one of the best dogs I’ve ever been around. I’ve always grown up with big dogs, so it’s been different for sure to have this little guy but enjoying all the time with him.”
Kunin doesn’t know when training camp might start and doesn’t know what the future holds, but he wants to play if and when the NHL makes that call. They would be the No. 10 seed for the Western Conference Playoffs and would face No. 7-seeded Vancouver in a best-of-five series to advance in the playoffs.
“If we come back, great. I’m excited to and I want that and I want to play some more hockey, I really liked what our team was doing and I want to get back in and battle with the guys,” Kunin said.