PHILADELPHIA – James van Riemsdyk can’t keep track of the secondary assists while his family is quarantined with his in-laws: it’s all hands on deck in while the Philadelphia Flyers star and his wife celebrated the birth of their daughter.
And JVR could use the extra hand -- he’s still recovering from a broken finger that cost him the final three games before the NHL season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Van Riemsdyk, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2007 draft, is on the NHL’s return-to-play committee trying to solve how the league could safely resume this season. Play time these days comes with daughter Scarlett Everly, born May 2 with the van Riemsdyks in Minnesota. The new family house isn’t finished yet, so the family of three has quarantined at his in-laws house.
Van Riemsdyk, who had 19 goals and 40 points in 66 games, and wife Lauren (about 34 weeks pregnant at the time) drove from Philadelphia to Minnesota about a week after the season was suspended.
“I think now that there’s more information, it probably would have been more stressful had we been a little deeper into the pandemic than what it was with the information that was coming out then,” van Riemsdyk said in a phone interview. “We’re happy we’re able to come back and be close to her family so they’re able to help and do things like that and make her feel more comfortable.”
That’s also a bit of a full depth chart at his in-laws' house on the east side of the Twin Cities metro area.
“They have a pretty good setup in the basement where we kind of have our own space if we need it,” van Riemsdyk said. “Her dad really enjoys cooking so we get some gourmet meals going. Her mom has been great about helping out with the baby -- both of them have -- but she’s been great, epsecially in the night when we’re trying to get a little bit of sleep. She’s been staying up with some of the graveyard shifts.
“They’ve been great, but I’m sure they’re getting sick of us cramping their style.”
The 31-year-old van Riemsdyk was grateful under COVID-19 circumstances he was allowed in the delivery room for his daughter’s birth.
“That would have been pretty tough for everyone if I couldn’t share that moment for the family,” he said. “I tried to help in whatever minimal way I could and just be there for support.”
The break in his NHL career gave him more time to share in all the small moments his daughter he could have missed had the Flyers been in the midst of a playoff push. The Flyers were the hottest team in the NHL and had won nine straight games before a loss headed into the break. He expected to return for the playoffs after he broke a finger on his right hand blocking a shot March 4 against Washington.
“I wouldn’t say it’s fully normal as it was before, but it’s getting to the point where I’m not thinking about it as much,” van Riemsdyk said. “I would have been able to play weeks ago, probably. But every extra day I get, I can heal and be more comfortable with kind of getting the feeling and touch back.”
He’s getting the feel of how to be a dad -- even as he learns on the fly during a pandemic.