Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning says the players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering and the team still intends to play a 56-game season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning says the players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering and the team still intends to play a 56-game season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canucks players ‘mostly on the other side’ of COVID outbreak: general manager

The athletes have had a “whole range” of COVID-19 symptoms, said team physician Dr. Jim Bovard, but no one has needed to be hospitalized

The Vancouver Canucks are recovering from the NHL’s worst COVID-19 outbreak and believe they can complete the pandemic-condensed season.

An outbreak has ripped through the team over the past week and a half with 25 people — 21 players and four members of the coaching staff — testing positive, and one additional player being deemed a close contact.

General manager Jim Benning told reporters Friday that many of the players are feeling better.

“I think our players, for the most part, our players are on the other side of it,” he said. “We still have family members that are getting sick and I think the players worry about that.”

The athletes have had a “whole range” of COVID-19 symptoms, said team physician Dr. Jim Bovard, but no one has needed to be hospitalized.

The Canucks confirmed on Wednesday that a variant is involved in the outbreak. Full genome sequencing is being conducted by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control to determine which specific variant.

The team previously said an ongoing investigation by Vancouver Coastal Health and contract tracing have found that the outbreak was sparked by a single unnamed individual picking up the infection in a “community setting, which has since been identified by public health as a public exposure location.

“Rapid spread of infection throughout the team indicates a link between contacts and the primary case,” the Canucks said in a statement.

Bovard said the individual picked up the virus somewhere that was within the NHL and provincial protocols.

“There’s no culprit here other than the COVID virus itself. Everybody’s been working incredibly hard in the last year to avoid getting it and in spite of their best efforts, this can happen,” he said.

“It’s not an accident that it happened when it did given what’s going on in the broader community.”

B.C. announced a record 1,293 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.

“What’s happening with us is really just a microcosm of what’s going on in the broader community,” Bovard said.

The team’s doctors and staff are set to meet with health officials Friday to discuss when the Canucks can reopen their facilities and get players back on the ice. Bovard noted that the final decision will be up to health officials.

The Canucks (16-18-3) have not played since March 24 when they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Winnipeg Jets in Vancouver.

The team then had a six-day break and was set to take on the Calgary Flames on March 31. The game was postponed shortly before puck drop when a player and a coach tested positive for COVID-19. Another player had tested positive the day before.

Nineteen Canucks players were listed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Thursday, including forwards Travis Boyd, Jalen Chatfield, Adam Gaudette, Jayce Hawryluk, Nils Hoglander, Bo Horvat, Zack MacEwen, Marc Michaelis, Tyler Motte, Antoine Roussel, Brandon Sutter and Jake Virtanen, defencemen Alex Edler, Travis Hamonic, Quinn Hughes, Tyler Myers and Nate Schmidt, and goalies Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby.

A player on the COVID-19 protocol list has not necessarily tested positive. Players who are in self-isolation after travelling or who’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive, for example, are also on the list.

The list does not include team staff or players not on the active roster, including those on the taxi squad.

The Canucks have seen six games postponed since the outbreak began, but Benning said he still expects to play 56 games this season.

“We’ll work closely with the NHL to try and figure out a schedule,” he said, adding that he believes the current regular-season end date of May 8 could be pushed back.

Once the team has been cleared to reopen its facilities, players will all go through physicals to determine who’ll be available to play once games are back on the schedule.

Benning said he expects the majority of the impacted players to be back on the ice when the rink reopens, and will decide in the next few days whether there’s a need to call up any additional players.

No one has said they want to opt out of the remainder of the season, Benning said.

“I know talking to players, they’re worried about their families and stuff. And we’ll get through all that,” he said. “But these guys, they’re competitive guys and they want to get back playing again when they know that they’re going to be safe, their families are going to be safe.

“I haven’t heard anybody as of right now who doesn’t want to continue finishing off the season.”

With all the Canucks have been through in recent weeks, the GM doesn’t expect to be busy come the NHL’s trade deadline on Monday.

“We still have a few days here, we’ll take calls, talk to other GMs, and see if there’s something out there that makes sense,” he said as a cellphone rang on his desk.

Putting players through the stress of a trade right wouldn’t be ideal from “the human side of things,” Benning said.

“They’ve dealt with a lot here the last few weeks,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do at this point in time.”

Canucksvancouver canucks

Just Posted

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

Taco, a beloved family cat had to be euthanized last week after ingesting poison. At least four cats ingested poison last week, prompting a warning from the local SPCA. (Submitted)
Taco, a beloved Penticton cat had to be euthanized after ingesting poison

Local SPCA puts out warning after four cats poisoned near downtown Penticton

RCMP vest
Penticton beach brawl results in one arrest but no charges

People took to social media after a fight broke out at the fire pits at Okanagan Lake Saturday

Levi Carter with the Osoyoos Coyotes. (File photo)
From the KIJHL to BCHL, Levi Carter follows in dad’s foot-steps with Penticton Vees

Carter joined the Vees as an affiliate player after finishing his Junior ‘B’ season in Osoyoos

Road work is underway in Penticton so traffic controllers are asking drivers to be aware. (Submitted)
Message to Penticton drivers: Slow down and pay attention in Cone Zones

Over the last 10 years in B.C., 12 roadside workers died and 207 were injured

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Barriere RCMP nabbed two suspects who were allegedly breaking into cabins in McLure. (File photo)
Thieves nabbed by Barriere Mounties during McLure break-ins

Police Service Dog Kody instrumental in making the arrest

(File photo)
Repeated cougar sighting on Okanagan Rail Trail

Plenty of bear sightings around the valley too

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

A single motorcycle parked outside of the Kelowna Hells Angels clubhouse at 837 Ellis Street on July 9, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna Hells Angels prospect sentenced to 9 months in jail for aggravated assault

Colin Michael Bayley pleaded guilty to the downtown Kelowna assault earlier this month

Salmon Arm RCMP seize a handgun, drugs and cash at a Silver Creek property on Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Police seize handgun, drugs and cash at a Shuswap property

Salmon Arm RCMP said warrant for Silver Creek revealed cannabis, possible cocaine, magic mushrooms

Vernon Search and Rescue, along with Shuswap members, rescued three kayakers near Lumby Sunday, May 16, 2021. (VSAR Instagram)
3 kayakers rescued in North Okanagan

Shuswap, Vernon search and rescue teams make swift-water rescue Sunday

Most Read