Senators coach says organization members have recovered from coronavirus

Ottawa Senators coach D.J. Smith said Wednesday that the members of the organization who tested positive for the coronavirus have recovered.

"The good thing is that everyone that had it didn't have horrible symptoms [like] what we're seeing on TV and [with] some of the people that have really struggled," Smith said in a video conference with reporters. "Some guys didn't feel well, but being athletes, they all got through it, and they're all on the other side of it now."

Five Senators players, radio color analyst Gord Wilson and one staffer all tested positive for COVID-19.

Ottawa played games in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles before the NHL paused its season on March 12. The Senators' game at the Kings on March 11 was the final one played in the league before the season was put on hold.

Smith recalled how surreal it was being in San Jose on March 7, as the Senators played a game two days after Santa Clara County recommended a moratorium on mass gatherings to prevent the spread of coronavirus, one of the first such requests in the United States at the time.

"In San Jose, it was kind of weird. We got in midafternoon in Santana Row, and there wasn't really a lot of people out. Guys usually like to try and go for a walk and dinner -- at that point no one knew what we know now," Smith said. "Guys were aware, but I don't think there's no way of telling that it would have gotten to this level -- certainly for us, anyway.

"But the fear hadn't set in. I mean, San Jose was a little bit lighter, but when we were in Anaheim, everything was normal. Everybody in Anaheim and L.A. was living life as normal. You'd see the odd person with a mask on in L.A. right at the end of the trip, but the world as we know it today was nowhere near it back then. That's just part of it, is learning."

Smith said that team's personal experience with the pandemic has given him a different outlook on it.

"My opinion has changed about how much more serious it is. The way it's spreading and hitting towns and cities," he said.

"I think it's important that you see that this disease doesn't spare anyone. It doesn't matter: Actors or actresses, rich or poor, you gotta make sure that you stay safe. I'm really glad that everyone in our organization and on that plane is doing well now, but certainly a scary time. It hit us, but at the same point, probably saved a lot us too. Seeing it up close that quickly, we probably got a bit of a jump on it too."