The Vancouver Canucks will once again try to resume their season later this weekend.
As David Satriano explained for the NHL’s official website, Vancouver will now return from its lengthy COVID-19 pause on Sunday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the two sides will meet again on Tuesday. Per Sportsnet 650, the Canucks are set to play 19 times in 32 days to complete their full 56-game regular-season schedule on May 19.
The NHL had previously moved the campaign’s final day from May 8 to May 11 and then May 16 to account for the season stoppage caused by the COVID-19 outbreak that has kept the Canucks out of action since a loss to the Winnipeg Jets on March 24. The other three divisions may begin their portions of the Stanley Cup Playoffs next month in the United States as the all-Canadian North division finishes its schedule hopefully by the end of May 19.
Originally, the NHL planned to have Vancouver return for Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers but changed course “to provide club staff and players with additional time for recovery and preparation following its recent COVID outbreak,” according to a league statement. At least 21 players and 25 people, total, tested positive for the coronavirus amid the outbreak.
Forward J.T. Miller raised eyes on Wednesday when he told reporters he thought it was “dangerous” the league was rushing Vancouver back to competitive action when some players were still recovering from virus bouts and others hadn’t built up fitness levels and stamina lost during the unscheduled break.
“I hope people don’t take this the wrong way. I’m a super competitive guy,” Miller explained at that time. “But this isn’t about hockey for our team. This is about the health and safety of our players, their family and their children. This isn’t about making the playoffs.”
Earlier on Friday, the Colorado Avalanche had their next three contests postponed due to COVID-19 issues.