An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

NHL expresses concern about Canucks’ COVID-19 protocol situation

The league believes the Canucks will return and conclude their 56-game schedule

The NHL’s deputy commissioner says the Vancouver Canucks’ COVID-19 outbreak is concerning, but remains confident the team will be able to complete its schedule.

In an email to The Canadian Press on Monday, Bill Daly says the Canucks’ numbers are “concerning from a health and safety standpoint, not necessarily from a scheduling standpoint.”

Daly says the league believes the Canucks will return and conclude their 56-game schedule.

Daly also says the league will not change its COVID protocols in the aftermath of the Canucks’ situation.

After forward Adam Gaudette’s positive test came back last Tuesday, practice continued without him and then last Wednesday morning’s skate went ahead.

Left-winger Nils Hoglander was added to the NHL’s protocol list Monday. Seventeen of the 22 players on the Canucks’ active roster are now on the protocol list.

A player on the list has not necessarily tested positive — the list, for example, also has players who must self-isolate for being a close contact or travel reasons. A player who tests positive must self-isolate for 10 days.

The list is updated every day at 5 p.m. ET.

The team has had four games officially postponed because of the virus, and appears it will be sidelined longer. The Canucks are next scheduled to face the Calgary Flames Thursday and Saturday, however the NHL announced Calgary will face the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday instead. The league also moved Friday’s match between the Oilers and Ottawa to Thursday.

Multiple reports have said the P. 1 variant first identified in Brazil is suspected to be involved in the Canucks’ outbreak, but the Canucks and NHL have not commented publicly on results of tests since the Vancouver organization confirmed Gaudette had tested positive last week.

A Canadian infectious disease specialist says more information is needed on the Canucks before deeper analysis is possible.

“I think it’s a bit early to speculate about what’s happening with the Canucks. I mean I suspect that the outbreak there is likely going to turn out to be related to P1 but we don’t know yet whether anyone’s going to have severe infections,” said Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease expert with the University of Alberta.

“Certainly any of the variants, including what we call the wild type or the original variant, are able to cause symptomatic disease in young people, it’s just the degree of symptomatology that is variable. And so it’s difficult to draw conclusions just from one small group, but certainly, this should put Canadians on notice.”

READ MORE: Vancouver Canucks’ COVID-19 situation sends chill through NHL’s North Division

The biggest previous COVID-19 outbreaks in the NHL were all in the U.S.

The Dallas Stars had their first four games of the season postponed after 17 players tested positive — most of whom were asymptomatic.

The New Jersey Devils had 19 players on the COVID protocol list and seven games postponed earlier this season, while the Buffalo Sabres had nine players on the list and six games postponed.

Schwartz says it’s not surprising to see an outbreak on a team, even though there is regular testing.

“I think it was just a matter of time and it’s sort of similar to what we saw unfold with the White House and the outbreaks that occurred there,” he said.

“Basically we know that testing is not intervention in and of itself. It’s able, perhaps to identify people who are infected earlier than if we were just waiting for the development of symptoms alone, but if it’s not also implemented with other safeguards and restrictions, it’s basically like relying on a pregnancy test to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. So I think it’s probably expecting too much for the testing alone to be able to prevent the infection.”

The Canucks’ outbreak comes with the vaccine rollout going slower in Canada than in many states in the U.S.

“There’s two different countries, different rules, different situations,” Calgary Flames centre Mikael Backlund said. “There’s nothing we can do about it really. We’ve just got to wait for our turn.”

— With files from national hockey writer Joshua Clipperton and Melissa Couto in Toronto.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanucksCoronavirusNHLvancouver canucks

Just Posted

Gerry Thiessen, mayor of Vanderhoof shown talking to students on May 17. Thiessen and other members of council officially announced that the rainbow crosswalk will be a reality. They were ready to paint a few lines of of paint onto the crosswalk, but weather wasn’t suitable for it. District staff will be jumping onto the project as soon as the weather allows it. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
School District 91 holds first ‘Share the Love Day’

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia recognized

Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. Toxic illicit drugs have claimed the lives of 498 British Columbians in the first three months of 2021, said the BC Coroners Service. (BCEHS photo)
Increase in overdose cases a concern: Fort St. James RCMP

Police issue public health announcement

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

Then-finance minister Kevin Falcon presents his last B.C. budget, Feb. 21, 2012. The province was emerging from the 2009-10 recession and repaying federal incentive to cancel the harmonized sales tax. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Political veteran Kevin Falcon set for 2nd run at B.C. Liberal leadership

Vancouver MLA Michael Lee announces on the same day

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Most Read