Morgan Rielly cooking, reading, trying to adhere to schedule while isolating at home

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 10: Morgan Rielly #44 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates after a whistle during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Scotiabank Arena on March 10, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

These wouldn’t be considered the busiest days for Morgan Rielly, but the Toronto Maple Leafs star defender still sees the value in keeping a strict schedule.

“Home workouts in the morning,” Rielly explained on a conference call with reporters on Thursday, “and down time after that.”

Rielly is facing the same frustrating reality as most who are still fortunate enough to still have their health right now as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 crisis, remaining isolated at his Vancouver home. He’s doing a little reading, maybe more television watching than he’s accustomed to, has mixed in a puzzle or two, and is also doing some cooking as well.

It’s manning the grill where Rielly is most comfortable, he says, when it comes to preparing food. But he did explain that there’s a limit with what he will try, and that he hasn’t quite crossed the threshold toward fish.

"I don't want to undercook it, and then we have a whole new problem on our hands," he said.

Used to enjoying meals prepared at the rink and hitting restaurants on the road, home-cooking every meal might be the biggest adjustment for Rielly, but he’s isn’t going through it alone. Rielly is sharing his isolated space with girlfriend and Canadian Olympic hero Tessa Virtue.

While it had been rumoured for quite some time, the pair all-but confirmed their relationship while quarantined in their home, and more specifically while appearing together on an Instagram Live interview with Arkells frontman Max Kerman.

Though Rielly isn’t trying to draw more attention to the high-profile relationship, he’s thankful to be sharing space.

"We're in it together,” he said, “trying to keep each other sane, and do our part and just quarantine. I really won't talk about it too much, but I'm really glad I'm not alone."

With the NHL is still holding out hope that it can resume the season at some point in the late spring or summer, the morning workouts are most certainly the most productive hours Rielly is logging right now.

However there is another form of homework loosely provided by the organization, and in particular general manager Kyle Dubas, which Rielly has started to dig in to.

"If you've played for Kyle long enough, he's probably given you a book,” Rielly said.

He declined to share the title on the suggested reading, but indicated it was related to mental health.

Not that these things are connected in any fashion, it has been a challenging season on multiple levels for Rielly. After generating some Norris Trophy buzz last year, Rielly struggled to repeat his form while dealing with injuries and new partnerships on the Leafs’ back end. His most significant setback was the broken foot he suffered on Jan. 12 in Florida.

After missing eight weeks, he dressed in just one game before the NHL pressed pause amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus. While working tirelessly for just a single-game return is far from the ideal scenario, Rielly says he would have been in a far worse spot had he not completed the rehabilitation process.

"I would have gone crazy if I hadn't played," he said.

From a global health perspective, it’s expected to get far worse before it gets better, and for that reason it will be even more frustrating for players that want nothing more than to rescue something from this season.

And if they are able to, the silver lining will be that many players will have the opportunity to heal during this isolation period.

Rielly wasn’t willing to blame injuries for his on-ice performance in his rocky season. But after this extended layoff, the expectation should be that Rielly would be in a better position to help his team if the Leafs have the opportunity to complete the 2019-20 season.

“I feel good,” he said, simply.

In isolation, it should stay that way — assuming that he continues to adhere to that self-imposed schedule.

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