Following yesterday’s scathing comments by J.T. Miller, the NHL is now contemplating postponing tomorrow’s Vancouver Canucks game — and maybe more games than that.
The Canucks were supposed to hold their first practice at Rogers Arena this morning since a COVID variant ripped through their team. That practice may still go ahead as scheduled, though the team has made the curious decision to make it “closed” to the media, which at least during normal times is not allowed by NHL rules.
Schedule update: Today's practice, originally scheduled open to media, is now a closed practice. Media availability details TBC.
— Canucks PR (@CanucksPR) April 15, 2021
There is more to this story however.
According to multiple reports, Canucks players met with the NHLPA Wednesday night to discuss the plan ahead.
Canuck players had a zoom call tonight with NHLPA. We’ll get clarity tomorrow on where things stand for resumption of games.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 15, 2021
Multiple NHL insiders are now reporting that medical testing of players this morning will determine if more games will be postponed.
Medical examiners @nhl and @NHLPA who have been leaned heavily on will finish reassessing the @Canucks players today and likely to make the call on playing this weekend. If they cautiously recommend to wait a few more days look for a Monday start. @Line_Movement
— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) April 15, 2021
Canucks players had a Zoom call with NHLPA last night. Obviously some concerns from some about being ready to play Friday-Saturday. Medical testing for some players before practice today will be an important factor in what comes next. Fluid situation to be sure.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 15, 2021
League source confirms that the Canucks’ weekend games might change again…Based on medical evaluations being done today with players and staff.
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) April 15, 2021
The Canucks haven’t played since March 24, and had their first game postponed on March 31, following a scheduled one-week break and an unscheduled 15-day hiatus due to a COVID-19 outbreak resulting in 25 members of the organization testing positive.
Eight games have been rescheduled, meaning the Canucks are now being asked to play 19 games in 31 nights — including back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday.
Injuries seem inevitable, given the long layoff, not to mention problems that are sure to arise by pushing the players who are still recovering from a respiratory virus.
Miller, who was one of the few players not to test positive, stood up for his team on Wednesday, raising safety concerns.
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“I don’t really feel ready at all, if I’m being completely honest,” Miller said.
“We’ve tried to talk about the number one priority [being] the players’ health and the families’ safety, and it’s almost impossible to achieve that with what they’ve asked us to do here on our return. I can’t speak on behalf of the guys that have had COVID, but I’ve talked to my teammates a lot, and this hasn’t obviously been that easy.
“It’s different for everybody, and now to try to come back and play is going to be very challenging, and not very safe if you’re asking me. And I’m sure there’s other people that would agree with that. I don’t know what it’s going to take for us to try to avoid injury, stay healthy.”