It’s been a long wait, but the NHL is ready to begin the 2021-22 season, and after two years of COVID interruptions, bubbles and playing in empty rinks, things are (almost) back to normal. That means fans in the rinks, some even at full capacity. But let’s not kid ourselves and think that COVID is no longer a concern, as we saw yesterday with two breaking stories.
The first one was an update from Canucks GM Jim Benning, who confirmed Brandon Sutter will continue to be out of the lineup, and announced Sutter is suffering from Long COVID, still struggling with symptoms dating back to the outbreak that affected the team back in March.
When training camp began, Sutter was said to be suffering from fatigue symptoms, so the news that it is indeed Long COVID, while extremely worrisome, is not at all a surprise. The concern now is more for his well being than when we can expect him to return to the lineup for the Canucks. The Canucks have moved him to LTIR (along with Brady Keeper and Micheal Ferland) while he continues his recovery, it did allow the Canucks (along with some waiver moves) to announce their opening night roster yesterday.
General Manager Jim Benning has confirmed the opening day roster for the 2021-22 NHL season.— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) October 12, 2021
Brock Boeser, Brady Keeper, Tyler Motte and Brandon Sutter will commence the season on the Club’s Injured Reserve List.
DETAILS | https://t.co/SQMiFoSCHi pic.twitter.com/zmQm7ev14Y
Along with Sutter, another disappointment is that Brock Boeser will not be ready to go for tomorrow night, and there’s no word yet on just how long it will be before he will be ready to return. They’re also without Tyler Motte, who suffered a concussion after a headshot from Timothy Liljegren in a game on April 29th and hasn’t been back since. They’re joined on the list by Brady Keeper, who suffered that horrendous broken leg in training camp.
We’ll take a deeper look at the Canucks season opening lineup in our Nucks Misconduct 2021-22 Season Preview, coming up later today.
Meanwhile, the NHL’s 32nd franchise is going to have to deal with some adversity right out of the gate. Yesterday the team announced that five players have been placed on COVID Protocol:
Kraken coach Dave Hakstol just confirmed that Jared McCann, Joonas Donskoi, Marcus Johansson and Jamie Oleksiak have all joined Calle Jarnkrok in Covid-19 protocol. So, lots to do personnel-wise ahead of team’s franchise opener tomorrow. #SEAKraken #Kraken #NHL— Geoff Baker (@GeoffBakerTIMES) October 11, 2021
Since then, it appears Johansson could be cleared to come off the list, and there’s a possibility that the other three additions could be cleared to play tonight in Vegas as well, but we’ll get clarification as the day progresses. They’ve also put Yanni Gourde on the IR to start the season.
If they’re not able to go, the Kraken will be making callups to their AHL squad, and yesterday they picked up Alex Barre-Boulet on waivers from Tampa.
Speaking of Tampa, the defending Stanley Cup Champs will be raising their banner tonight as they open the season hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins, before the Kraken play their first official game against the 31st team to join the league, the Vegas Golden Knights tonight at 10pm.