By Andrew Bell
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper has been like everybody else during these last few weeks of staying at home. He’s made the most of time with family, he’s played with his dog, and he’s been riding his Peloton bike along with trying a few new cooking recipes.
On a Zoom call with the media earlier this week, he also appeared on the screen with a new look, as the normally clean-shaven puckstopper for the Yotes’ showcased his mustache while answering questions from reporters.
“I’ve just been going with it over this break,” said Kuemper with a big smile discussing his new facial hair. “I didn’t shave for a couple of weeks and then I just thought I’d keep it. It’s more popular outside of the house than inside.”
Kuemper has shown off the new stache on facetimes and Zoom calls with teammates, and as he noted, it’s been a bigger hit with the guys on the team rather than his fiancee.
Nevertheless, it’s just one hobby he’s kept up with during this time indoors and away from the rink. As for the hockey aspect, Kuemper also opened up about postseason formats, which head coach Rick Tocchet delved into last week as well.
Kuemper expressed his thoughts on how the postseason would likely have to be away from the normal fomrat if the season has any chance of returning. Additionally, one of the more intriguing thoughts that he brought up was how much time it would take players to get back into the swing of everyday hockey after being at home for extended periods of time.
Kuemper gave a time frame of about two weeks to get back in playing condition, using normal training camp and preseason games in September as an example and a measuring block for other players. If everyone is doing their best to stay fit while at home right now, there shouldn’t be an issue, he said.
“I can only speak for myself and I don’t know how other guys would feel but with a week of practice and intra-squad games,” Kumper said, “…I think it would be about a week to two weeks depending on how long this goes. Training camp isn’t much longer than that and we are playing preseason games three days into training camp now.”
Among other talking points, Kuemper reflected on his own 2019-20 campaign, a stretch that featured a variety of ups and downs, including an All-Star appearance if not for a lower body injury that sidelined him for a few months in December.
He had just started to return to form to play alongside backup Antti Raanta when the season’s postponement hit. In his 29 games played, Kuemper had gone 16-11 with a 2.22 goals against average and a .928 save percentage, at times stealing games for Coyotes victories in the early portion of the year.
“It was a long road through that injury. It was great to get back but things ended pretty quickly,” said Kuemper of his journey throughout the year. “I was glad I was able to get back before the season stopped because it would be hard to have this season end on an injured note…I was feeling good and like I was back to normal. I’m more frustrated in the sense that I miss hockey. It’s not the injury, but obviously we all have to make sacrifices right now.”