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Laval Rocket players react to growing concerns over coronavirus

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Rocket win 3-0 over Senators, but coronavirus looms large over the rest of their season.

Club du hockey Canadien Inc./ Laval Rocket

Depending on what comes Thursday, the Laval Rocket may not be playing in front of fans for the next little while.

Perhaps, they might not even play at all.

The National Hockey League released a statement late Wednesday evening, moments after the Laval Rocket defeated the Belleville Senators 3-0 at Place Bell. The statement was dropped in light of the National Basketball Association suspending its season indefinitely after a player tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus.

Meanwhile, NHL teams like the San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets had already announced their next few games would be closed to the public, adding to the growing number of leagues and tournaments around the world either cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus.

“It’s hard not to worry at this point,” Rocket forward Joseph Blandisi said after the game. “I think, worldwide, everybody’s aware of it. It’s all you see on the news right now. Hoping the doctors can find a way to put a stop to it. We’ve got to keep our sports.”

“It’s the reality,” defenceman Gustav Olofsson said. “It’s important for us to contain it as well as possible. Whatever comes, comes. But, it would obviously be unfortunate for the fans and for us and what we’re working towards. We’ll continue to go to work every day.”

The Rocket say they’re following any directives that come from the Montreal Canadiens and the National Hockey League on anything related to COVID-19. The team has restricted locker room access to the media, following the Habs and many other professional teams.

Rocket players were interviewed in the Place Bell hallway outside the team locker room Monday, only because their press conference room was occupied in preparation for a concert being held later that night. Interviews, with players and coaches, have since been moved to that room.

Hours before Wednesday night’s game, UEFA Champions League matches were played behind closed doors. The NCAA announced their annual NCAA Division I Basketball tournaments for men and women would also be held behind closed doors. There’s no word on whether or not that possibility could come to the National and American Hockey League as of now.

“If it comes to that, that’s what we’ll have to do,” defenceman Noah Juulsen said. “We’ll have to find ways to get excited for games and just be pumped up with the position we’re in right now. We’ve got to keep pushing.”

Until further notice, the Rocket are back in action Friday night and Saturday afternoon against the Binghamton Devils at Place Bell.