- Emily Kaplan is ESPN’s national NHL reporter.
More than half of the players on the Vancouver Canucks have tested positive for COVID-19, a source confirmed to ESPN. Additional names are expected to be added to the team’s COVID-19 protocol list besides the 14 who appeared on Saturday.
Some players are symptomatic, and according to several sources there are a few who are in “rough shape.” One Canucks player told ESPN he hadn’t heard from a team representative about any players going to the hospital, but he had heard of teammates receiving IV treatments for severe dehydration, presumably at their homes. A source told ESPN that at least three Canucks coaches have tested positive for the virus as well. In addition, many family members of players have tested positive and are experiencing symptoms, according to sources.
“Fatigue, dehydration, the symptoms are intense,” one agent of a Canucks player told ESPN. “It’s knocked a lot of guys out. Some can’t even get out of bed.”
A source confirmed to ESPN on Saturday night that the more infectious P.1 variant of COVID-19, which was first found in Brazil, has been found among several of the cases affecting the Canucks, the first known cases of the new variant among NHL teams this year. That news was first reported by Canada’s Postmedia. The Vancouver region has recently become a hotspot for the P.1 variant.
The NHL had initially planned on closing the Canucks’ practice facility until at least Tuesday with the team returning to action on Thursday. However those dates are expected to be pushed back, as this is the worst outbreak for a team in the NHL this season. The NHL is hopeful that the Canucks will be able to resume play this season, though decisions will be made on scheduling in the next few days, as more information is gleaned about how players are recovering.
On Saturday, the NHL and NHLPA circulated memos to teams reminding them to stay “vigilant” and to adhere to the guidelines agreed to for this season — including wearing masks, even if individuals have been vaccinated, and not going to restaurants. Coaches were also reminded not to pull down their masks to talk to players or officials on the benches during games, which has become common practice in the NHL this season.
The Canucks are the second Canadian-based team to have COVID-19 issues. The Montreal Canadiens had four games postponed in late March but have since returned to action. The NHL has now postponed 45 games because of COVID-19, though the first 37 postponements were all for United States-based teams.
For Vancouver, the issue began on Tuesday, when Adam Gaudette was pulled from practice following a positive test result, which was confirmed positive later that evening. Travis Hamonic joined Gaudette on the protocol list on Thursday. By Friday, Alexander Edler, Braden Holtby, Quinn Hughes, Zack MacEwen and Antoine Roussel were all added to the list as well, following additional testing and contract tracing. Gaudette’s wife, Micaela, tweeted Thursday: “My hubby isn’t in great shape but I’m taking good care of him!”
Micaela Gaudette also tweeted: “A human being gets sick with a virus we don’t know much about and yalll are angry at him because you cant watch a hockey game on tv” in response to criticism on social media.
Travis Boyd, Thatcher Demko, Jayce Hawryluk, Bo Horvat, Tyler Motte, Tyler Myers, and Brandon Sutter were added to the list on Saturday.
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