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The best NHL coronavirus pause trend? Players adding dogs to the family

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Barclay Goodrow was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 24. Seventeen days into his tenure with his new team, the NHL shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Goodrow had just settled into his condo with his girlfriend, Madison. They could have gone back home to Toronto, but Goodrow was wary of traveling during a pandemic.

“Going through an airport when we didn’t need to isn’t something we wanted to do,” the 27-year-old forward said. So they stayed in Florida.

“We were watching the news one night and they said shelters were pretty much at capacity with animals,” Goodrow said. “And a lot of shelters were being shut down.”

The couple had both grown up with dogs and always wanted one of their own; being bound to their apartment in a new city for an indefinite period felt like as good an opportunity as any to fulfill that desire.

So they applied to foster two puppies from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.

“We showed up to pick up our two dogs, and as we went into the room, [Victor] Hedman and his wife were sitting there to pick up their two dogs, as well,” Goodrow said. “It was a total coincidence, but we were getting four dogs from the same litter.”

Once the Humane Society of Tampa began posting photos of Goodrow and Hedman and their 6-week-old foster puppies — believed to be collie-retriever mixes — teammate Braydon Coburn became interested. Coburn’s family came in the next day, and they’re fostering the puppies’ three other siblings because they didn’t want to separate them.

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is fostering two dogs from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. Courtesy of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay

“They’re calling it the Lightning litter,” Hedman said. “At this point, we want to come closer to a solution for the virus, obviously follow the rules as much as we can and be positive as much as we can. But having these puppies at home with us really helps time move faster.”

Said Goodrow: “When you’re stuck inside a pretty small apartment, the days can go by pretty slowly. These two guys have provided a lot of excitement. And something to do. They definitely help lighten the mood. It’s a joy. They’re probably sick of walking three times a day, but there’s nothing else to do.”

NHL players, like the rest of us, are homebound for the foreseeable future. Without morning skates, team meetings, travel and games to fill their days, many have adopted dogs to give them companionship during this uncertain time.

“Everyone is getting a dog right now,” Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser said. “It’s the perfect time to get a dog.”

Boeser already had Coolie, an Australian Cattle mix he — coincidentally — adopted in Tampa Bay during the NHL All-Star Weekend in 2018. Boeser wanted to adopt another dog last summer, “but I had too much going on,” he said. Right before Boeser was set to make the 27-hour drive from Vancouver to Minnesota after the NHL’s coronavirus pause, he spotted a dog available for adoption online. Boeser applied, got accepted and upon returning to Minnesota, Coolie had a little brother, Milo, who Boeser believes is either a lab-shepherd mix or a husky-shepherd mix.


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