Trying to hit top speeds without letting your engine warm up is a good way to damage your car.
That same concept applies to elite athletes, meaning that even if government officials allow professional sports to be played in the near future, you shouldn't expect to see Stanley Cup playoff games within days of the A-OK.
On pause since March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Hockey League season may or may not resume in the late spring or early summer. With an unprecedented months-long break in their routines, the players will need time to get back to peak performance.
"It's impossible to judge. No one's training as they normally do," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said on a media conference call from his home in Michigan Tuesday. "If we do come back, there needs to be some sort of mini-training camp, whether that's seven or 14 days or whatever that entails. We'll need to get back up to speed as quickly as possible."
It's easy, as Bruins fans, to assume the NHL could forgo its lost regular season games and jump straight into the Stanley Cup playoffs; Boston has the most points in the league and would be in the tournament under any structure. Teams on the bubble might feel differently, though, wanting to chase their spot or improve their seed. Either way, the chase for the Cup is the most grueling playoff in all of sports.
It'd be totally unfair to ask players to go from a dead stop to all-out battle mode in a matter of days.
"With this long of a layoff, to jump back into the most intense hockey of the season — and in some cases the most intense hockey of guys' careers — it's a big risk for injury," Krug said.
The possibility of playing without fans in neutral sites such as North Dakota or New Hampshire has been suggested. As both players and citizens, the hockey community is left both yearning to get back on the ice and also knowing that patience is needed to ensure safety for all against the spread of the virus.
"For me I think it's fairness: as long as everyone's in a situation where the playing field is level, then competing for a Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal," Krug said. "It's a great opportunity to get creative, see what people cane come up with. We also want to make sure it resembles something close to what we've had in the rich history of this game.
"We all want to get back playing. Most guys feel a little bit lost in this situation, but we have to park that feeling and realize there's something much bigger. If we do get to play, let's be safe and smart. No one wants to jump into a situation where we put a bunch of people in one area and this (virus) takes off again."
The uncertainty of the coronavirus pause is tougher for Krug, 28, since he's in the last year of his contract with the Bruins. The sides haven't talked about an extension recently, and there's simply no way to know what cancelled games — or in the worst scenario cancelled playoffs — would do to the league's salary cap.
The money available for a high-scoring defenseman like Krug (top 10 among all blue liners this year) could look much different than anticipated if the NHL's revenues crash and salaries fall. Demand for his services could also rise considerably if out-of-town teams see a reduced price as tremendous value for one of the league's best power play guys.
"I really hope I did not play my last game as a Boston Bruin," Krug said.
There's nothing that can simulate skating or get the body ready to being checked into the boards by a 220-pound opponent. Krug has been doing his best to stay in shape while hunkering down with his family, doing Peloton workouts and distance running.
Not seeing MVP candidate David Pastrnak's wardrobe and fellow defenseman Charlie McAvoy's smile were among several things Krug mentioned missing about being around his team every day. For a team as tight-knight as the Bruins, the delay has been harsh — but their bond also means they should be able to fall back together like puzzle pieces if the Stanley Cup is awarded this summer.
"We're all in this together. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully we have a chance to go on and try to do something special," Krug said. "Hopefully we can get back playing and have an opportunity to win the Cup. The group we have in Boston is special, and I know a lot of teams around the league feel the same way."