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Friday Skate: Canucks Game in Danger?, NHL Reeling with Covid, Maurice Resigns

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Outgoing head coach of the Winnipeg Jets Paul Maurice and undefeated head coach of the Vancouver Canucks Bruce Boudreau.

It’s Game On! For now, that is … who’s to say what’s going to happen in the next 18 hours as it relates to Covid tests. The Toronto Maple Leafs, who arrived in Vancouver on Wednesday from Edmonton because their Thursday game in Calgary was postponed due to the Flames Covid-19 outbreak, are hoping they’re not seeing an outbreak of their own. Maple Leafs captain John Tavares and forward Alex Kerfoot were placed in test-positive protocols on Friday with the rest of the team’s results pending.

Toronto practised at UBC on Thursday, then cancelled their noon Friday practice, while the Canucks also cancelled their optional practice that had been slated for 1 pm Friday.

The Vancouver Canucks have three defencemen out due to Covid, Brad Hunt, Luke Schenn and Tucker Poolman, although there’s a chance Poolman’s test result from Tuesday, that pulled him out of the game at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets after the first period, was actually a false positive. He’s waiting on one more negative test to be deemed eligible to play Saturday. Assistant coach Jason King tested positive on Wednesday and didn’t make the trip to San Jose for the Canucks 5-2 victory on Thursday.

Aside from the following list, the Boston Bruins game at Montreal has been postponed for Saturday night. The Maple Leafs farm team also based in Toronto, the AHL Marlies, have postponed their games through December 21st.

The Calgary Flames’ postponed games to date include: Dec. 13 @ Chicago; Dec. 14 @ Nashville; Dec. 16 vs. Toronto; Dec. 18 vs. Columbus; Dec. 21 vs. Anaheim; Dec. 23 vs. Seattle.

The Colorado Avalanche’s postponed games include: Dec. 18 vs. Tampa Bay; Dec. 20 @ Detroit; Dec. 22 @ Buffalo; Dec. 23 @ Boston.

The Florida Panthers’ postponed games include: Dec. 18 @ Minnesota; Dec. 21 @ Chicago; Dec. 23 vs. Nashville.

Amidst all of the Covid news Friday, Paul Maurice surprised the hockey world by resigning as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets in the middle of his ninth season on the job. Assistant coach Dave Lowry assumes the helm and ran the team’s morning skate in preparation for Friday night’s game against the Washington Capitals.

Maurice said he’d lost the passion for coaching for the first time in his career and had been bothered by coaching in the Covid bubble. With that, coupled with the fact the Jets are four points out of a playoff spot after 29 games in a season of great expectations, Maurice decided to step down. There’s the possibility he may have been fired at some point, but Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff wasn’t clear on that likelihood or inevitability. Maurice was under contract through the 2022-’23 season and although he won’t collect his full compensation by stepping down, a financial settlement with the club was arranged.

The Vancouver Canucks situation is just the opposite. Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has begun his tenure with a six-game winning streak and has a chance to get his Canucks team back to .500 on the season with a win on Saturday. The team could also potentially move into 5th place in the Pacific Division.

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