Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning says the players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering and the team still intends to play a 56-game season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning says the players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering and the team still intends to play a 56-game season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canucks players ‘mostly on the other side’ of COVID outbreak: general manager

The athletes have had a “whole range” of COVID-19 symptoms, said team physician Dr. Jim Bovard, but no one has needed to be hospitalized

The Vancouver Canucks are recovering from the NHL’s worst COVID-19 outbreak and believe they can complete the pandemic-condensed season.

An outbreak has ripped through the team over the past week and a half with 25 people — 21 players and four members of the coaching staff — testing positive, and one additional player being deemed a close contact.

General manager Jim Benning told reporters Friday that many of the players are feeling better.

“I think our players, for the most part, our players are on the other side of it,” he said. “We still have family members that are getting sick and I think the players worry about that.”

The athletes have had a “whole range” of COVID-19 symptoms, said team physician Dr. Jim Bovard, but no one has needed to be hospitalized.

The Canucks confirmed on Wednesday that a variant is involved in the outbreak. Full genome sequencing is being conducted by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control to determine which specific variant.

The team previously said an ongoing investigation by Vancouver Coastal Health and contract tracing have found that the outbreak was sparked by a single unnamed individual picking up the infection in a “community setting, which has since been identified by public health as a public exposure location.

“Rapid spread of infection throughout the team indicates a link between contacts and the primary case,” the Canucks said in a statement.

Bovard said the individual picked up the virus somewhere that was within the NHL and provincial protocols.

“There’s no culprit here other than the COVID virus itself. Everybody’s been working incredibly hard in the last year to avoid getting it and in spite of their best efforts, this can happen,” he said.

“It’s not an accident that it happened when it did given what’s going on in the broader community.”

B.C. announced a record 1,293 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.

“What’s happening with us is really just a microcosm of what’s going on in the broader community,” Bovard said.

The team’s doctors and staff are set to meet with health officials Friday to discuss when the Canucks can reopen their facilities and get players back on the ice. Bovard noted that the final decision will be up to health officials.

The Canucks (16-18-3) have not played since March 24 when they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Winnipeg Jets in Vancouver.

The team then had a six-day break and was set to take on the Calgary Flames on March 31. The game was postponed shortly before puck drop when a player and a coach tested positive for COVID-19. Another player had tested positive the day before.

Nineteen Canucks players were listed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Thursday, including forwards Travis Boyd, Jalen Chatfield, Adam Gaudette, Jayce Hawryluk, Nils Hoglander, Bo Horvat, Zack MacEwen, Marc Michaelis, Tyler Motte, Antoine Roussel, Brandon Sutter and Jake Virtanen, defencemen Alex Edler, Travis Hamonic, Quinn Hughes, Tyler Myers and Nate Schmidt, and goalies Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby.

A player on the COVID-19 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.

The Canucks have seen six games postponed since the outbreak began, but Benning said he still expects to play 56 games this season.

“We’ll work closely with the NHL to try and figure out a schedule,” he said, adding that he believes the current regular-season end date of May 8 could be pushed back.

Once the team has been cleared to reopen its facilities, players will all go through physicals to determine who’ll be available to play once games are back on the schedule.

Benning said he expects the majority of the impacted players to be back on the ice when the rink reopens, and will decide in the next few days whether there’s a need to call up any additional players.

No one has said they want to opt out of the remainder of the season, Benning said.

“I know talking to players, they’re worried about their families and stuff. And we’ll get through all that,” he said. “But these guys, they’re competitive guys and they want to get back playing again when they know that they’re going to be safe, their families are going to be safe.

“I haven’t heard anybody as of right now who doesn’t want to continue finishing off the season.”

With all the Canucks have been through in recent weeks, the GM doesn’t expect to be busy come the NHL’s trade deadline on Monday.

“We still have a few days here, we’ll take calls, talk to other GMs, and see if there’s something out there that makes sense,” he said as a cellphone rang on his desk.

Putting players through the stress of a trade right wouldn’t be ideal from “the human side of things,” Benning said.

“They’ve dealt with a lot here the last few weeks,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do at this point in time.”

Canucksvancouver canucks

Just Posted

Kimberley Fire Department responding to mobile home fire in Marysville.
Mobile home fire in Marysville Friday evening

The Kimberley Fire Department is on scene at what appears to be… Continue reading

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

A new coalition has formed to call upon the government to make fundamental legislative changes to prioritize protecting fish, wildlife and their habitats. Doug Turner photo.
Wildsight joins coalition calling on government to prioritize wildlife and habitat protection

A new province-wide coalition comprised of more than two dozen diverse organizations… Continue reading

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

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

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

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Tim Miller is selling his 76-foot steel bridge from his property in Burton, B.C. The bridge originates from the railway in Revelstoke. (Contributed)
For sale: a 100-ton 19th century bridge by Arrow Lakes

Bridge is in Burton, B.C. and advertised for $40,000

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Most Read