NHL announces return to play plan for Vancouver Canucks
Published Saturday, April 10, 2021 3:46PM PDT Last Updated Sunday, April 11, 2021 2:38PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- Update, April 11: The NHL announced Sunday that another player had been added to the COVID-19 protocol list, prompting the delay of the Canucks' return to the ice until Monday at the earliest. More details on that story can be found here. The original story follows.
As long as there are no further positive tests for COVID-19 Saturday, the Vancouver Canucks will return to the ice on Sunday, the National Hockey League has announced.
The Canucks are scheduled to reopen their facilities for practice on Sunday, with a game against the Edmonton Oilers scheduled for April 16.
A total of seven Canucks games have been postponed as a result of coronavirus cases that ripped through the organization in recent weeks.
Twenty-five people associated with the team have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 31. That total includes 21 players.
The team's 56-game schedule now concludes on Sunday, May 16, with the playoffs for the all-Canadian North Division likely starting after that date.
"The NHL will continue to assess the progression of the regular season before announcing definitive dates for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs," the league said in its statement Saturday.
"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."
The announcement comes one day after the Canucks held a news conference with General Manager Jim Benning and team doctor Jim Bouvard. At the time, Bouvard described the team's immediate future as "a bit of an unknown."
He said those who tested positive had experienced "the whole range" of symptoms, but that no one associated with the team had required hospitalization.
Bouvard also told reporters the coronavirus did not appear to have been introduced to the team through unsafe behaviour. He said it appears the person who introduced the virus to the team went to a place they were allowed to visit, based on guidelines, and an exposure took place.
In its statement Saturday, the league said the Canucks' organization had followed and would 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 said the decision to allow the Canucks to return to practice Sunday was made jointly by medical groups from the league, the NHL Players' Association and the team.