In a matter of weeks, Canada went from a COVID afterthought among NHL teams, to the epicentre of the problem. Of course, that’s because the Vancouver Canucks are suffering through the league’s worst outbreak at the moment, and one of the worst in the NHL so far this season. Every team has had their schedule affected by COVID, but most teams haven’t been rocked as hard as the Canucks. The team currently has at least 10 players and staff who have tested positive, according to TSN.
A Brazilian variant has also been identified in at least one of the cases. Some research has shown that this strain is up to 2.5 times more transmissible and that it can be more deadly for young people compared to other strains of the virus.
Let’s try to make sense of this nightmare situation by looking at five ramifications for the Canucks.
1. The health ramifications
Right off the bat, the biggest concern for the Canucks is the long-term health of the players.
Seven Canucks (Gaudette, Hamonic, Hughes, Holtby, Edler, MacEwen, Roussel) now on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.— Joshua Clipperton (@JClipperton_CP) April 2, 2021
Easy to second guess now, but why was Tuesday’s practice allowed to continue and Wednesday’s morning skate allowed to go ahead following Gaudette’s positive test?
I’ve seen enough eye-rolling from people online and in my personal life about how my generation (those darn 20 to 39-year-olds) don’t really need to worry about COVID safety because our chances of recovering from the virus are good.
I get it, there’s COVID fatigue, but you’re a fucking moron if that’s your attitude.
Yes, lots of people get the virus and are asymptomatic and/or have mild symptoms. There are also people (yes, young people too) who can get rocked by this virus.
We’re reportedly already seeing this with the Canucks.
As Dregs notes, some #Canucks players have become very ill.— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) April 3, 2021
I’m also being told that in some cases team medical staff may have gone to the homes of players to administer IV treatments. https://t.co/Uh5bqk6raf
That’s a terrifying headline, and it highlights that, despite COVID fatigue, every single one of us needs to be diligent now more than ever.
If you’re lacking motivation, keep Travis Hamonic in your thoughts. Hamonic was one of only a handful of players to opt-out of last year’s bubble playoffs... making the statement below last July.
“Like every parent, everything we do is to provide and protect our kids and try to take away any suffering they may endure. Last year, we spent the longest, scariest and hardest week of our lives by our daughter’s hospital bedside. We were unsure of what would come next. But with God’s strength, our little girl fought her respiratory virus and recovered during that long week. We were helpless and couldn’t do anything to help her except hold her little hands, kiss her head and pray. We saw what a respiratory virus can do to our healthy little girl. And it’s something no parent wants or should go through. Now, blessed with our second child, a baby boy, the risk of today’s COVID-19 pandemic is a very difficult one to weigh as parents.”
Hamonic was one of the Canucks to test positive for the virus.
In terms of the “younger” guys in the NHL who have got the virus, two players have publicly stated how much it affected them. Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Sabres talked about how his COVID symptoms at points were so bad that he “didn’t know if he would wake up in the morning.” Minnesota Wild prospect and ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft, Marco Rossi, has been knocked out of action for the entire season due to post-COVID 19-complications.
The moral of the story is that no one really knows what the long-term effects will be for the Canucks currently suffering from COVID-19, especially those who contracted the Brazilian variant.
Godspeed, Canucks... because nothing else matters aside from good health.
2. The outbreak drastically reduces the ability to do anything prior to the trade deadline
Because of the timing of the Canucks’ COVID-19 outbreak, it would be shocking if Jim Benning were able to get anything done prior to the trade deadline. With the entire team currently in isolation, merely over a week before the April 12th deadline, it’s virtually impossible that there’s a Canuck traded before then.
The league has already canceled Vancouver’s games up to April 6th... and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they don’t play again before the trade deadline.
Despite the fact that the Canucks really should be selling assets to build towards the future, everything is essentially on pause for this club.
This will be a deadline where no one can’t rip Benning for a lack of activity.
3. Good chance they don’t finish the season
With the Canucks facing minuscule odds of making the postseason, the chances of them finishing the season with fewer than 56 games increases.
Even if the Canucks could resume play on Thursday, April 8th (a highly unlikely possibility), they would have to play 19 games in 34 days. The Canucks do have four straight games against the Ottawa Senators scheduled from April 22nd to 28th. Those could be eliminated without drastically impacting the schedule or the integrity of the season.
As of now, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has said there’s currently “no consideration” of shortening the Canucks season. Depending on how things progress over the next few days, don’t be surprised if there’s suddenly some consideration to ax some of the Canuck’s remaining games.
4. How competitive will they be when they return?
As the scope of the #canucks COVID situation widens, they are starting to bring players back to Vancouver from @TheAHL. They need reinforcements to serve seven-day quarantines and be ready to play when their NHL schedule resumes.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 3, 2021
On Friday, the Canucks recalled goalie Artus Silovs from the Manitoba Moose and Guillaume Brisebois from the Laval Rocket.
5. Facing a media conundrum
Of course, when the Canucks come out of isolation, they will be bombarded with questions from the media regarding the outbreak and recovery. The real question is, how much of the dreadful experience will they choose to keep to themselves.
It’s fair to expect players to withhold some details of their experience. We don’t need to know the whole story. However, I don’t think the team should take the high road and fail to talk about their experiences at all.
As I mentioned before, too many people are suffering from the aforementioned COVID-19 fatigue, and seem to have a nonchalant attitude towards the virus. If some of the Canucks were to come forward and talk about their experience, it would serve as a good reminder that people need to stay vigilant.
I'm sure there are plenty of privacy considerations at play, but the Canucks detailing exactly how #COVID19 spread rapidly through the team could do a tremendous amount of good in warning people how dangerous the virus can be, particularly if variants are involved— Justin McElroy (@j_mcelroy) April 3, 2021
Until that happens, wash your damn hands & stay safe.