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Wake With Elias: Miller Returns to Practice, Hughes Mysteriously Absent

It was a good news, bad news day for the Canucks on Sunday.

St. Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks
Quinn Hughes #43 of the Vancouver Canucks is congratulated by teammate J.T. Miller #9 after scoring during their NHL game against the St. Louis Blues at Rogers Arena November 5, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. St. Louis won 2-1.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

jIt was a good news, bad news day for the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

Let’s start with the good news. J.T. Miller received clearance on Sunday to join the Canucks for practice. He’ll suit up for the first time this season against the Calgary Flames tonight after finding himself mired in COVID-19 protocols.

Miller was deemed to be in close contact with Jordie Benn, who had multiple positive and negative tests.

“It sucks completely,” Miller said during media availability, two of which the Canucks lost due to poor special-teams play. “This is my job and I train for this, and I’ve done three quarantines now in the last six months, so it’s not ideal at all.”

The addition of Miller is monumental for the Canucks top line, after Jake Virtanen floundered there through the first three games of the season. A revolving door opened up on that line through the latter parts of the last two games, with Nils Hoglander arguably looking better than anybody else up there.

NHL: JAN 16 Canucks at Flames
Calgary Flames Defenceman Christopher Tanev (8) tries to clear the puck from in front of Calgary Flames Goalie Jacob Markstrom (25) while Vancouver Canucks Left Wing Nils Hoglander (36) takes a crosscheck from Calgary Flames Defenceman Mark Giordano (5) during the first period of an NHL game where the Calgary Flames hosted the Vancouver Canucks on January 16, 2021, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Miller will also help the Canucks power play, which hasn’t scored a goal yet this season.

One thing to watch prior to game time tonight is the status of Quinn Hughes. Arguably the Canucks MVP through the first three games of the season, Hughes missed practice on Sunday, and there weren’t any updates on his status for tonight’s game. [CBS Sports]

It could simply just be a maintenance day, but if it’s more than that, it would be a terrible blow to the Canucks roster.

Nate Schmidt was practicing with the first power play unit in Hughes’s place on Sunday.

“Maintenance day is code for getting treated for something, TSN’s Jeff Paterson said on TSN 1040 on Monday morning. “If Hughes is completely healthy, he’s at practice. He’s a gamer.”

Here are some other Canucks news and notes.

  • An update on the Canucks prospects, including the curious case of Joni Jurmo. [The Province]
  • A Stz’uminus First Nation artist helps design Braden Holtby’s new mask. [CBC]
  • Five takeaways following the Canucks loss to Calgary on Sunday. [TSN]
  • Matthew Zator takes stock in some of the Canucks players through three games. [The Hockey Writers]
  • On the latest episode of the Sippin’ on a 40 podcast on the Nucks Misconduct Network, Kyle Bhawan and Nick Bondi debate on whether it’s time to keep the panic button in sight. [Nucks Misconduct]

NHL News

  • Jason Spezza and goaltender Aaron Dell were waived by the Toronto Maple Leafs over the weekend. Now, Spezza’s agent said he will retire if he is claimed. [Sportsnet].
  • UPDATE: Spezza cleared waivers, while Dell was claimed by New Jersey.
  • Prince Edward Island native Adam McQuaid officially announces his retirement from the NHL. [CBC]
  • Here’s a look at one question facing each Canadian team early in the season. [Sportsnet]
  • And finally, in case you missed it, an unreal end to the Minnesota, LA Kings game on Saturday night. It’s not often you see a game-tying buzzer-beater that’s as close as this one.