While the NHL and its teams are no strangers to obstacles set by COVID-19, the current situation with the Vancouver Canucks is unprecedented.
The league and Canucks’ franchise are currently dealing with a situation involving the pandemic that has not happened before inside the NHL. 17 of Vancouver’s 22 active players are now on the protocol list.
A player being named to the list doesn’t necessarily mean they have tested positive for the virus. The list also includes players that must self-isolate for being in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. If a player tests positive, they must self-isolate for 10 days.
The NHL’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly says the teams’ numbers are “concerning from a health and safety standpoint, not necessarily from a scheduling standpoint.”
Daly also said that the league’s COVID protocols would not change in the aftermath of the Canucks’ situation.
The league’s protocols require players and staff to be tested daily. Any time a sample comes back positive, it is sent to a lab for a second test on the initial sample. If the sample returns a positive result, then the test is referred to as a “confirmed positive”.
Vancouver has had their games postponed through April 6. The last time the Canucks hit the ice was on March 24 and 4 games have been impacted due to postponement.
Multiple reports are suggesting that the Canucks were hit with the P1 variant of COVID, which was first identified in Brazil. The Canucks nor NHL have commented publicly on the matter or positive test results.
As mentioned, the NHL has been hit by the COVID bug earlier in the season as well. The Dallas Stars had their first four games of the regular season postponed after 17 players tested positive.
With the ongoing pandemic, the NHL has discussed having another playoff bubble. Last season, amid the pandemic, the NHL ended their season with select playoff teams being invited into two bubbles – one in Edmonton and one in Toronto.
Inside the two bubbles, zero positive tests were returned. League officials say they are waiting to see how the situation unfolds and the timeline of vaccines for their players and staff.
The Canucks are still considered a long shot to win the North Division and compete for the Stanley Cup. According to Betway, the Canucks are listed at +15000 to win the North Division title. Their postponements haven’t greatly impacted NHL future odds, but have impacted daily odds between the Canucks and their opponents due to lineup changes.
If all goes to plan, Vancouver should hit the ice on April 8 against the Calgary Flames. Right now, the league is taking it day-by-day, but official word should come by the 7th of April.
The NHL is working on rescheduling the Canucks’ postponed games. Currently, Vancouver has games against Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary to reschedule.