The Vancouver Canucks, who haven’t played an NHL game since March 24th, are scheduled to play tomorrow night against the Edmonton Oilers, and then 22 hours later against the Toronto Maple Leafs. That’s a tough ask in a normal situation, but considering the team was wiped out almost to a man by COVID (and not just the original strain but the particularly nasty Brazilian variant) after one practice and a game day skate seems like something that shouldn’t be happening.
Welcome to the NHL, where profits over players is the law of the land.
You shouldn’t at all be surprised by an organization that is constantly refusing to take responsibility and action against traumatic head injuries in the game, is telling a team to just get out and play as though it were the same as the break they take during the Olympics. Nor should it shock you that they have publicly compared it to this.
"We aren't twisting arms here."— Douglas MacDonald (@dmac5dmark2) April 15, 2021
-- Bill Daly
JT Miller says otherwise #Canucks pic.twitter.com/LTGXZo9yWt
And it’s not just the NHL that deserves scorn here. As you can see, Daly effortlessly throws the Canucks management and ownership under the bus, saying they’re on board with this, as well as implying the players were “eager to play”. J.T. Miller’s comments yesterday (check out Jimmi’s piece on this yesterday) show that to be untrue. There’s no possible way J.T. is alone in this sentiment. As one one of the team’s leaders, he was probably the best one to spell it out plainly that the players do not feel safe.
There are some who have said that this isn’t a big deal, they get paid millions to play a game, they signed contracts and they should just shutup and play. First, if you know someone like this, you should probably remove them from your life, because people like this would sell you out in a heartbeat. Second, I don’t give a good goddamn how much money they make. Unsafe work is unsafe work. Full stop. The risks here are far greater than whatever financial penalty the league and the team might suffer if the Canucks have to cancel games. Even the players taking a partial financial hit over this is far more acceptable than a career-altering injury.
The other disturbing thing about this is Miller has been the only voice we’ve heard from the Canucks side on this. Nothing from the team (other than posting Miller’s comments on social media, which is a statement in itself, but not enough), nothing from GM Jim Benning, and nothing from Francesco Aqualini. Remember this tweet?
Our thoughts are with the affected players, staff and their families. Health comes before everything else.— Francesco Aquilini (@fr_aquilini) April 2, 2021
This is unacceptable. Add in that the NHLPA, which is supposed to advocates for player health and safety, have also been noticeably silent and the whole thing just reeks. There’s no way that this ends well.
There is a meeting scheduled today between the NHL, the NHLPA and Canucks medical staff to discuss this issue. While some are optimistic that this means we could see tomorrow night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers postponed, Daly’s comments suggest otherwise, and the fact that this is a league notorious on doubling down when they’re wrong.
If you have the time, our pals over at Pension Plan Puppets and Raw Charge have written about this today.