The Vancouver Canucks won’t be playing NHL hockey on Saturday or Sunday night. The concept of defenceman Tucker Poolman turning a potential Tuesday “false positive” Covid test into a series of negatives turned out to be wishful thinking. His follow-up positive, combined with that of fellow defenceman Tyler Myers, forward Tyler Motte and a handful of other Canucks previously diagnosed, meant no pucks for us.
The Canucks are part of a trend. The list of NHL teams on temporary hiatus and postponing games is growing. It includes Pacific Division brethren the Calgary Flames, with nearly 30 players and staffers on the Covid protocol, the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers. The Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens game scheduled for Saturday evening at Bell Centre has been postponed, among five total NHL matches taken off the books on this date.
Fortunately for our friends at “Hockey Night in Canada”, they can still produce some content. They have Ottawa at Philadelphia for an early game and Edmonton at Seattle for the late tilt. Any more postponements involving teams from north of the border and Ron McLean would have been hosting “Hockey Night in Raleigh”.
Early Saturday morning, via consultation with the NHL Players Association, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and staff issued an updated set of Covid protocols for all players and staffs. Kind of a back to the future feel.
They incude the wearing of masks at all times on planes, buses, in hotels and at the rink. That includes charter flights. Masks mandatory when not playing, exercising or eating.
Mask wearing in all public indoor areas in player’s respective communities.
While on the road, no eating indoors at restaurants, bars unless in a private section or cordoned area.
Physical distancing pretty much everywhere.
Avoid use of public transportation.
No one but essential personnel in locker room and bench areas, masked.
Virtual meetings as opposed to in-person whenever possible.
Reduced interaction within one’s community, including non-participation in holiday celebrations.
Team holiday parties are strictly prohibited.
These enhanced prevention measures go hand-in-hand with additional Covid testing, as in every day, with extra tests given on game days for teams experiencing any level of outbreak.
Broadcasters and media, anthem singers, any game night rink personnel, must be masked and remain at least 12-feet away from players, coaches and staff.
These enhanced measures will remain in place until at least January 7th, 2022 unless the situation changes and modified measures are released.
I wouldn’t count on it.
As for the postponements, it’s pretty simple for fans who planned on attending the games at Rogers Arena; simply hold on to your tickets for the rescheduled dates. The Vancouver Canucks next game that hasn’t been postponed yet is in San Jose on Tuesday, December 21st. We shall see.
The Olympic questions will grow, the likelihood of full NHL participation in Beijing 2022, if any, seeming more distant. Again, the NHL, as an entity, has until January 10th to make a final decision. Of course, should the league continue to give the thumbs up, players can and will make their own decisions on a personal case by case basis.