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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sports broadcaster and 30-year high school football coach Farhan Lalji. (Image via farhanlalji.com)
Farhan Lalji chats about the new B.C. high school sports governance proposal

Lalji, a 30-year high school football coach, thinks the new proposal will be bad for student athletes

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

‘I’m sending it back for clarification,’ mayor decides

(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of April 5

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

(Delta Police Department photo)
South Delta crime beat, week of April 5

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Dr. Bonnie Henry says Surrey immunization targeted at neighbourhoods most at risk

‘What we’ve been looking at is the case rates by neighbourhood,’ provincial health officer says

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Most Read