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Covid NHL Blow-up, Canucks Trip on Hold, Leafs to Half-Capacity

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The Vancouver Canucks in Boston on November 28th.

It’s back! Although it never really left. The question now is; where to start? So much has happened around the NHL the last couple of days as it relates to Covid. All is quiet for the moment in the land of the Vancouver Canucks following last night’s dramatic 4-3 comeback victory over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. The team did not hold a practice or a media session Wednesday and is waiting for the latest round of Covid test results before jetting off this evening to play the Sharks in San Jose. The game is scheduled for Thursday night.

Four Vancouver Canucks presently sit-out with positive test protocols. Luke Schenn and Juho Lammikko, Brad Hunt, and Tucker PoolmanPoolman actually played one period in Tuesday night’s game before being shut-down.

Wednesday afternoon the Florida Panthers announced a slew of players were entering Covid-19 protocols. Sam Bennett, Radko Gudas, Ryan Lomberg, Brandon Montour, Carter Verhaeghe and a traveling staffer have all been told to stay home.

The outbreak within the Calgary Flames organization, Pacific Division brethren of the Vancouver Canucks, has apparently tripled. Twenty-seven players and staffers with the club tested positive. The team’s games have been postponed at least through Saturday.

Allegedly the Carolina Hurricanes will be able to play Thursday evening in Detroit with a shortened bench and the team will be allowed to fly it’s Covid-protocol affected players and staffers home on the charter with the team. Which sort of flies in the face of the more stringent NHL protocols announced earlier Wednesday.

In his piece about Covid player safety, writer Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now put it this way, “It seems risky that the Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings have been cleared to play tomorrow. Two players were placed on Detroit’s COVID list today and six players are on Carolina’s list.”

Adding to this oddity is the fact that the Carolina game in Minnesota on Tuesday night was postponed.

The Boston Bruins, like the Hurricanes, is a team that recently came through Vancouver. Captain Patrice Bergeron was added to the protocol Wednesday, a day after Brad Marchand and Craig Smith were put on the list.

Following discussions between the NHL and the NHLPA, the league introduced the more stringent protocols, which include daily Covid tests for all players and limitations on freedom of movement when in road cities. The new guidelines are to remain in place until at least January 7th.

Also Wednesday, the Province of Ontario re-introduced capacity limits of 50-percent for indoor entertainment venues, meeting and event spaces, and sports venues with an indoor capacity greater than 1,000 people. So yes, that means the Toronto Maple Leafs and the AHL Marlies.

Meanwhile, the Olympic question continues to linger, as in, will NHL players be going. Beijing introduced very stringent Covid protocols for the Winter Games particularly for any player or person who might test positive while in China.

Defenceman Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks and Team Sweden told reporters Wednesday that if the rules remain the same related to quarantine in China for positive tests there, he likely won’t be going to the Olympics.

Not good, and it’s not getting any better.

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