As the news rolls out of Vancouver and more people are listed as having been affected by the COVID virus, there are concerns over both the health of the 20-plus players on the COVID Protocol list and what it means for the Canucks season, including what it does to the NHL’s plans for the playoffs.
Obviously, health should be the primary concern here. That said, as more and more players are discovered as having been hit with this new Brazilian variant of the disease, there’s growing concern that how sick the players are getting and how fast the virus is spreading could affect the Canucks final 19 games. Not only that, but the NHL might need to make arrangements to alter the season and the playoffs.
TSN’s Darren Dreger wrote on Sunday:
“Number of positive cases climbing within the Vancouver Canucks. More than 20 players/coaches combined have tested positive. Variant symptoms include vomiting, cramping and dehydration. Family members are getting it. Scary situation. Next 5-7 days will determine scheduling.
This Has the NHL Worried
While the league isn’t blaming the Canucks players for what’s going on here, on Saturday night, as per a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the NHL sent out a strongly-worded memo to tall 32 teams and the NHLPA. It was essentially a reminder about the best social distancing practices and how to deal with this new information about how quickly the virus is spreading. Included in the memo were notes that eating out or playing cards is not a good idea and that coaches should not lower their masks to yell at players or officials while on the bench.
In other words, the NHL has noticed a more lackadaisical attitude towards following COVID protocols. Everyone has been notified and reminded of what’s expected of them moving forward.
Does This Affect the Canucks’ Season or the NHL Playoffs?
As news gets worse with each passing the day, the NHL will have no choice but to look at how they reschedule rest of the Canucks season and possibly how their season affects the playoffs.
If the Canucks are out of it, their last couple of games won’t need to be played (assuming they’re playing opponents where the standings won’t matter). But in the likelihood that games are delayed further, the NHL might have to push back the end of the regular season and delay the playoffs by a few days.
From there, how the playoffs are formatted may change. Friedman stated that the NHL certainly doesn’t want to have to go back to a bubble situation, but that discussion will be on the table. He says, “It depends on how the world evolves between now and then,” he said.
The NHL is under the assumption that the entire Canucks team has been affected and if the league needs to look at what to do should the team not be able to play another game this season. There’s no indication that will happen, but people are starting to wonder.
The variant aspect of this virus is important to watch, because it hits 2-30 year-olds hard and with reports of IVs involved it would make you believe some players seasons might effectively be over.
At this point, it’s not about the season. It’s about making sure these players and their families are safe.
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