Ask Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp a question, and you will get an intelligent response, sometimes with a little sarcastic humour thrown in for good measure.
Copp was providing a lot of that and more during a video conference call earlier Tuesday from his parents’ winter home in Florida, where he has been since the players were given the green light to vacate their NHL cities amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Jets centre and left winger has been joined by his younger brother, who was going to college in Georgia and made the six- to seven-hour trip so the family could be together.
“Just try to stay as busy as I can and try to get a workout in in the morning or early afternoon,” is how Copp described his daily routine. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to go outside and go for runs. The tennis courts have been open and closed intermittently so we’ve been trying to do that. Lay by the pool, go on the boat and go fish.”
Copp says he’s also been able to get a few rounds of golf in because the courses have remained open, with restrictions like no rakes, not touching the flags and riding solo in carts.
He says he’s also been following other guidelines, like always washing his hands.
“This is easily the cleanest I’ve ever been so I’m pretty happy with my dedication to that so far.”
Copp admits to going “a little nuts” at certain times, but is fully appreciative of having it about as good as he could ask for. He’s also looking at treating this as a rare occasion for quality family time.
“It’s possibly the last time me and my brother will spend a month together with my parents. So we’re just trying to enjoy that part of it.”
And it doesn’t hurt to have his aunt, uncle and cousins living right next door.
“It’s good to have a little social interaction outside of our immediate family,” says Copp, who adds that the family is “following all the guidelines, the social-distancing rules.”
The 25-year-old Ann Arbor, Mich., native says he has been more focused on what has been going on with the COVID-19 pandemic than, say, reading a book.
“We have the news on here every day. We’re trying to stay as informed and knowledgeable as possible.”
Copp says he has been looking at studies on the pandemic — especially out of Southern California — as well as keeping up with “the politics behind everything.”
But, of course, Copp is like every other athlete who wants to be playing again and is trying not to let the pause because of the pandemic get to him.
“Try to be someone who doesn’t dwell on a situation you can’t control. This is kinda one of those situations where you gotta play with the cards dealt to you,” Copp said. “We obviously never wanted something like this to happen for a whole host of reasons outside of hockey.”
But Copp couldn’t be blamed if he was feeling bitter, at least a little. With 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points in 63 games, he was on track for a career year offensively. But his value to the team was far beyond what the stats could ever measure. The former Michigan Wolverine has developed into a leader and feels like his contribution to the team has grown.
“Being a leader is a big part of who I’ve been. Wearing a letter in Michigan is one of the proudest moments of my career,” says Copp.
“I look around the room and and there’s not too many guys that were here before I was here. I guess it’s been five years now, and I feel like my voice has gotten a bit louder over the years in the room in terms of knowing what we need to do.”
And this season that role has been expanded to playing with no fewer than 11 different linemates for head coach Paul Maurice.
“It probably gives Paul the most amount of freedom in terms of what he wants to do and what he wants lines to look like on any given night,” Copp said. “Whether that was me on the wing with Scheifs (Mark Scheifele) or (Adam) Lowry. Or in the middle with (Jansen) Harkins and (Jack) Roslovic or (Mathieu) Perrault and Roslovic. It just gives him the options to place me wherever I’m needed and whatever is going to help our team have the best chance to win that night.”
Copp believes his growing consistency has enabled Maurice to do things like have him match up against the other team’s top line and free up Patrik Laine to “go up against the third line or the third D pair so he can exploit his offensive prowess.”
“I feel it’s more comfortability for Paul, having certain things he knows he can get out of a player,” he said. “I feel my consistency, and how that’s grown over my career, is an important part of that.”
Playing in the middle or on the wall. Moving up and down the lineup. Being a mentor of sorts to help younger players and make things less complicated in their transition to the NHL. It’s all part of the package Copp brings to the Jets.
But he also has a great appreciation for the contribution of his teammates. And right near or at the top of the list has been the performance of fellow Michigan native Connor Hellebuyck.
“I haven’t watched every game and every goalie this year, but I can’t imagine it’s any better than what he’s done for us this year,” Copp said of the Jets’ undisputed team MVP. “He’s handled a significant number of games, he’s been dialled in for pretty much every one of them. He works at it and has his exercises and his drills that he’s very, very committed to and does not waver from those whatsoever.”
It is well known that Copp is a huge football fan, and is an even bigger admirer of fellow Michigan alum Tom Brady, who recently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a storied career with the New England Patriots.
“I’m Tampa Bay’s biggest fan right now. Jumping ship. There’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes for every player and organization,” says Copp. “It was time for them to go their separate ways, and he’s obviously found a spot that has some weapons. (Bruce) Arians is known as such a great offensive-minded coach. It could be a really good fit and I’m excited to see how all that plays out.”
That brings us to the former high school quarterback’s roommate Scheifele, who about a week ago during a league video conference call told reporters he “allows” Copp to have the remote on College Football Saturdays.
“Lord Scheifele — he gives his servants crumbs on one day a week. (Pause) That was a joke,” said Copp, feigning indignity. At least we’re pretty sure that was the case.
“I’m gonna talk to him about that. I’m gonna call him later today. We both want to watch the NFL on Sunday. Then there’s Monday Night Football. And Thursday Night Football. I’m down with putting a hockey game on at any time. So it’s not like he’s the master of the remote control.”
No doubt, Copp would love nothing better than to deliver those “chirps” in person. But he’s realistic about the situation the NHL, and pretty much the entire sporting world, finds itself in.
“I think we’re going to try and figure out a way to play this summer. I hope we do,” said Copp. “It’s going to be such a slow process. It’s going to be easing in almost by trial and error. You don’t want that second wave to get really, really bad. It’ll be interesting to see if we’ll play in front of fans, no fans. Neutral site.
“I think we know it’s not as clean cut as going back to Winnipeg, getting on a plane, and going to Calgary. It could be a little more complicated than that.”