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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ superintendent Scott Saywell at a May 6 press event showing off two new electric school buses. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district shows off electric buses

New buses anticipated to reduce 17 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from SD68 buses

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts trending down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Nanaimo city council has voted to deploy speed-reduction measures for the summer along Departure Bay Road and to consult with area residents and road users to explore ways to further reduce vehicle speeds in the Departure Bay Beach area. (News Bulletin file photo)
City will again lower speed limit on Departure Bay Road to 40km/h

City of Nanaimo will consult with stakeholders for ideas to reduce speeds past the beach

Reforming food systems will require taking a long view, and determined people organizing at tipping points, says columnist. (Stock photo)
OPINION: Food system reform can change world for the better

‘Long food movement’ could be a road map to curb our current global follies, says columnist

Traffic service worker Warren Van Sickle installs street banners bearing cedar bough designs by artist Becky Thiessen outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre on May 5. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo installs new street banners envisioning ecological survival

Artist Becky Thiessen’s designs depict cedar boughs and the Nanaimo estuary

Beef to the woman focused on her phone, driving a dark-coloured sedan through the Cilaire school zone. Perhaps you could use that same device to research some of the accidents and injuries caused by drivers who can’t seem to stay off their phones whilst behind the wheel.
Beefs & Bouquets, May 5

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Two semi trucks collided on the Nanaimo Parkway just north of Northfield Road on Wednesday morning, May 5. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
UPDATE: Nanaimo Parkway reopens after crash involving semi trucks

35-year-old driver was taken to hospital with serious injuries

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police photo of suspected cat thief was just a woman with her own cat

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports first vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

Most Read