The NHL announced on Saturday that the Vancouver Canucks will be allowed to begin practicing again on Sunday, April 11, and return to action on Friday, April 16 in a game against the Edmonton Oilers. The return comes after the Canucks postponed eight games due to a severe COVID-19 outbreak.
A COVID-19 variant swept through the team causing nearly the entire roster (21 players) and four staff members to test positive for the disease, including all four former Capitals players: Braden Holtby, Nate Schmidt, Jay Beagle, and Travis Boyd. The Washington Post described the Canucks’ outbreak as “the worst in the NHL this season — and perhaps in North American professional sports since the start of the pandemic.”
After an investigation, the Canucks said that the source was a single person who contracted the virus in a “public exposure location.” The investigation was conducted by club officials and Vancouver Coastal Health.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning predicted a majority of the team will return to game action “outside of two or three guys.”
The new schedule will see the Canucks play a brutal 19 games in 31 days to finish the season.
The puck drops again April 16th.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) April 10, 2021
“Once we’re healthy and we’re ready to play, I expect our players are going to be competitive here down the stretch,” said Benning. “We’ve got a hardworking group, a team that has a lot of pride. So, our schedule will be hard, we’re going to have a lot of games in a short period of time, but we’ll just see how we feel and how we come out of this and see where it goes.”
As @ThomasDrance points out, the Canucks are now being asked (ordered?) by the NHL to play 19 games in 31 days. As many of them — and presumably their family members — recover from an illness about which we’re still just learning. That’s ridiculous, bordering on reckless.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 10, 2021
In the North Division, the Canucks sit in fifth place, eight points behind the fourth place Montreal Canadians for the final playoff spot. The top four teams in each division go on play in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Due to the rescheduling of eight games for the Canucks, the NHL regular season will now finish up on May 16. According to the NHL press release, the league will continue to assess the progression of the regular season before announcing definitive dates for the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
In total for the 2021 NHL season, there have been 49 games postponed due to COVID-19.
The NHL says the Vancouver Canucks will reopen team facilities Sunday and resume play Friday after a COVID-19 outbreak in which 21 players and 4 staff members tested positive for the virus. https://t.co/6hVsOnUTKE
— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) April 10, 2021
More from the NHL:
NEW YORK (April 10, 2021) – The National Hockey League announced today that, pending today’s test results, the Vancouver Canucks will re-open their facilities for practice on Sunday, April 11, with a return to game play on Friday, April 16 vs. Edmonton. The decision was made by the League’s, NHLPA’s and Club’s medical groups.
A total of eight Canucks games have been postponed – March 31 through April 14. The League has rescheduled those games with the team’s 56-game schedule now ending on Sunday, May 16.
The Canucks’ organization has, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of its Players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, local, provincial and federal agencies.
The NHL will continue to assess the progression of the regular season before announcing definitive dates for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the newly revised end date for the regular season for the North Division, it is possible that the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the East, Central and West Divisions could open a few days earlier than the North Division.
Following are the changes to the North Division schedule:
Game #829, Edmonton at Vancouver, scheduled for May 4, is now scheduled for Friday, April 16 at 9 p.m. ET
Game #567, Calgary at Vancouver, scheduled for March 31, is now scheduled for Wednesday, April 21 at 10 p.m. ET
Game #792, Vancouver at Toronto, scheduled for April 30, is now scheduled for Thursday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Game #647, Vancouver at Calgary, scheduled for April 10, is now scheduled for Monday, May 3 at 9 p.m. ET
Game #593, Vancouver at Edmonton, scheduled for April 3, is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 4 at 9 p.m. ET
Game #662, Vancouver at Edmonton, scheduled for April 12, is now scheduled for Saturday, May 8 at 10 p.m. ET
Game #720, Ottawa at Calgary, scheduled for April 20, is now scheduled for Sunday, May 9 at 8 p.m. ET
Game #602, Vancouver at Winnipeg, scheduled for April 4, is now scheduled for Monday, May 10 at 8 p.m. ET
Game #619, Vancouver at Winnipeg, scheduled for April 6, is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET
Game #833, Toronto at Ottawa, scheduled for May 10, is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Game #673, Vancouver at Edmonton, scheduled for April 14, is now scheduled for Thursday, May 13 at 9 p.m. ET
Game #864, Calgary at Vancouver, scheduled for May 8, is now scheduled for Saturday, May 15 at TBD
Game #634, Vancouver at Calgary, scheduled for April 8, is now scheduled for Sunday, May 16 at TBD
Following are the start time changes to the North Division schedule:
Game #710, Toronto at Vancouver, scheduled for 10 p.m. ET on Monday, April 19, is now scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET
Game #510, Edmonton at Montreal, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET on Monday, May 10, is now scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET
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