Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

The Vancouver Canucks’ return from their COVID-19 outbreak has been halted – Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers has been postponed.

The Canucks had a Zoom meeting with the NHLPA on Wednesday evening to discuss their return after forward J.T. Miller spoke out earlier in the day.

The team was set to hit the ice Thursday for their first team practice since a COVID-19 outbreak swept through the group.

Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday because the team has not had enough time to recover and get back in shape.

The forward did not test positive for COVID-19 during the outbreak but said he still isn’t in game shape and can’t imagine what it would be like for his teammates who were sick to try to get back to a high level of play so quickly.

“It’s kind of frustrating if I’m being 100 per cent honest with you,” Miller said.

“We try to talk about the No. 1 priority is 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.”

At least 21 players and four members of the Canucks coaching staff have tested positive for the virus since March 30.

Vancouver has not played since March 24 and eight of its games have been postponed due to the outbreak.

Oilers captain Connor McDavid said it’ll be difficult for the Canucks to come back whether they get one practice in before playing or three. It’s important to make sure the players’ health and safety is looked after, he said.

“Obviously a very dangerous situation and we’re hopeful that they can come out of it and everyone can be healthy and fit to play at some point. Whether that’s (Friday), that’s out of our control,” McDavid said. “So I think at this point, we prepare as if we’re going. And if we don’t get on the plane, than we prepare for a big game in Winnipeg on Saturday.”

Seven Canucks remained on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Wednesday, including defencemen Jalen Chatfield, Alex Edler and Nate Schmidt and forwards Jayce Hawryluk, Nils Hoglander, Zack MacEwen and Jake Virtanen.

A player on the protocol list has not necessarily tested positive. Players who are in self-isolation after travelling or who’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive, for example, are also on the list.

The list does not include team staff or players not on the active roster, including those on the taxi squad.

Medical experts are still learning about the long-term impacts of the virus, especially when it comes to high-performance athletes, said Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease expert at the University of Toronto.

“It is a lung disease and we know that one of the more common things that people experience, apart from just general fatigue is people do have — for several months, perhaps longer, it varies — ongoing respiratory complaints like shortness of breath as well as just exercise intolerance,” he said.

Other athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19 have talked about how difficult it was to get back into top shape, including Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors.

The guard said he suffered from a sore back, sore eyes, body aches and a headache after contracting the virus earlier this year.

It’s not surprising that athletes would have a hard time coming back from COVID-19, Morris said.

“Many people, many patients, regardless of whether they’re professional athletes or not, will do totally fine. The majority of people do totally fine,” he said. “But there are people who win lotteries. And if you win the lottery and you’re unlucky enough to be hit hard by it, you could have lingering effects that last for months, for sure.”

Canucksvancouver canucks

Just Posted

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen offices in Penticton. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen showcases local government

The RDOS has put together a video as part of Local Government Awareness Week

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

A brown bear and two cubs were spotted near Killiney Beach May 10. (Michael Dick photo)
Warm spring brings bears out earlier in Okanagan

Residents urged to keep their garbage secure until the morning of pickup

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) handed out fines to two anglers on Shuswap Lake who were both casting more than one line, in violation of provincial regulations, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (COS photo)
Conservation officers snag Shuswap anglers for unlawful fishing

Two anglers were given $150 fines for casting two lines at once, against provincial regulations

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Lynda Saundry, born 1961, is charged with the murder of North Okanagan resident Barry Jones in July 2020. Saundry will appear in Vernon court May 17, 2021, to fix a date for a preliminary inquiry. (Facebook public photo)
North Okanagan murder suspect to be tried by judge and jury

Lynda Saundry is charged with the first-degree murder of Barry Jones in July 2020

Vernon Search and Rescue’s Legacy vessel is returning to Okanagan Lake for boating season, the society said Friday, May 14, 2021. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue vessel returns to Okanagan Lake

VSAR’s Legacy is back with a fresh coat of paint and some other upgrades

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read