Canucks return to play delayed; Extra recovery time needed for players after COVID outbreak
The National Hockey League officially delayed the Vancouver Canucks' return to play on Thursday.
The announcement comes hours after news that the game set for Friday night between the Edmonton Oilers and Canucks at Rogers Arena had been postponed.
"The decision to extend the period prior to the team’s resumption of play was made to provide club staff and players with additional time for recovery and preparation following its recent COVID outbreak," the league said in a statement. "The NHL made the decision with input from the league’s, NHLPA’s and club’s medical groups.
The league says that a revised North Division schedule will be released on Friday.
The Canucks have not played since Mar. 24.
"Our medical and hockey operations staff have collaborated daily with NHL, NHLPA and local health officials on the health and well-being of the team and our players' readiness to play. I would like to thank our players, our upcoming opponents, and everyone involved at the NHL and NHLPA for their input, guidance and understanding through this process. Above all else the health and safety of players, staff and families remains the priority," general manager Jim Benning said in a statement.
"Before every player resumes training a full medical evaluation is carried out, consistent with return to play NHL COVID Protocols. As of today, certain players have passed evaluation however many are not yet cleared and extra recovery time is required. Our medical staff are confident the recovery process for those players will be aided by an additional couple of days."
On Wednesday, Canucks forward J.T. Miller became the first Canucks player to address the media following the outbreak.
"It's kind of frustrating, if I'm being honest with you," Miller said. "We try to talk about the No. 1 priority being the players health and their families' safety, and it's almost impossible to do what they've asked us to do here on our return."
The Canucks were scheduled to play their remaining 19 games over a 31-day period.