NHL Hopeful Canucks Will Return to Play Next Week Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Adam WellsApril 8, 2021

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 23: The Vancouver Canucks logo projected on seat coverings inside Rogers Arena before the Canucks play the Edmonton Oilers during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on February 23, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NHL is hoping the Vancouver Canucks can resume playing games next week amid a COVID-19 outbreak within the organization. 

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN's Emily Kaplan that the league is looking at the end of next week as a potential return date for the Canucks. 

The Canucks announced Wednesday that 21 players and four coaches have tested positive for the coronavirus. The results also showed that a variant strain of COVID-19 was also among the positive tests. 

The Canucks added that an investigation by Vancouver Coastal Health, as well as contact tracing conducted by the team, determined the outbreak began with a single unidentified individual who contracted the virus in a "community setting."

Daly told Kaplan that the NHL is hopeful the Canucks will still be able to play a full 56-game schedule. The 2020-21 regular season is scheduled to end May 8. 

Kaplan noted the Canucks had no new players added to the league's COVID-19 protocol Thursday for the first time since April 1. 

Vancouver hasn't played a game since a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on March 24. The team has had five games postponed, with its next scheduled game set for Monday against the Edmonton Oilers. 

Yet, given Daly's timeline of late next week as a potential return for the Canucks, their first game back could be at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 17. 

The Canucks are in fifth place in the NHL's North Division with a 16-18-3 record and 35 points.