Tick tock. As we march towards Wednesday, December 29th and a scheduled game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Ducks in Anaheim, we cross our fingers that the match actually becomes a reality. Not just for the sake of the BC Boys and their desire to continue a six-game winning streak, but bigger picture, the reality that the NHL season is about to crank back up in earnest.
Maybe our headline should have a question mark at the end of it. That’s how unpredictable schedule execution has been around the NHL recently. Nothing, depending on the level of Covid outbreak in the NHL in the coming days, is etched in stone. Right now the Vancouver Canucks are clear of Covid issues other than forward Alex Chiasson, who as of Sunday afternoon had apparently been exposed to the virus but was awaiting one further test result.
If the Anaheim Ducks and LA Kings are in similar fine shape, let’s play hockey.
The NHL and the NHL Players Association took structural steps to help the cause Sunday, by announcing the re-formation of ‘taxi-squads’, similar to last season, where teams can carry up to six extra players on stand-by. Part of the announcement Sunday:
The NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to the formation of a “Taxi Squad” in order to provide Clubs with readily-available Players who can be recalled to the NHL in order to minimize the chances that Clubs have to play shorthanded or games have to be postponed due to pandemic-related issues.
Also to keep the ball rolling, or the puck gliding in this case, more and more executives and players in the NHL are proposing the relaxation of measures, as opposed to the stricter applications we’ve seen. It started with Hockey Hall of Famer, Detroit Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman back on December 18th.
“Players are testing positive with very little symptoms, if any symptoms at all,” Yzerman said. “I don’t see it as a threat to their health at this point, so I think you might take it a step further and question why are we even testing for guys that have no symptoms?”
In other words, positive tests likely don’t mean the person or persons are in danger, so why shut down the NHL for the equivalent of the common cold. His comments followed the decision by the National Football League to stop testing players who were vaccinated and asymptomatic.
“The players, I think, ultimately they want to play … none of the players have come to us and said, ‘Hey we should shut this down.’ If they feel that way they haven’t expressed that to us,” Yzerman said. “I think our players have been very positive in that, ‘Just tell us what we need to do and we’ll do it.’ They’ve been accepting of the protocols, whether they like them or not is irrelevant, but they’ve been willing to do them.”
“It is frustrating,” Canucks forward Tyler Motte told the media Sunday. “I think a lot of people thought we were on the way out of this and you kind of get hit with it again. Some are taking a different approach, maybe with milder symptoms in seemingly most people, but I’ll let the doctors and the league speak on the protocols, I’m not qualified or educated to make a heavy statement on that. I just know that the guys in the room and from what I’ve heard across the league, guys just want to find a way to play as many games as we can.
Motte and Tyler Myers were two of the five players who just completed positive test protocols and both had mild symptoms.
“I think the only thing we can do as players is focus on the things we can control,” defenceman Myers said, “and make sure we’re ready when the time comes to come back.”
The Vancouver Canucks will practice again Monday morning at Rogers Arena.