Effects of COVID-19 still a concern as another Vancouver Canucks game delay announced

The captain of the Vancouver Canucks has a message for the masses: take COVID-19 seriously.

Bo Horvat, one of 21 Vancouver players recovering from the outbreak, said he unwittingly infected his wife with the virus. The couple’s infant son Gunnar has not been tested.

“It hit her a little harder than it hit me. I’m one of the lucky ones, my symptoms were fairly mild… I got through them and am continuing to get through them,” he said.

“I’m not going to lie, it was tough to know my family got it from me.”

On Friday the NHL once again adjusted the Canucks schedule to give players more time to recover from their illnesses and a three-week layoff. 

Vancouver returns to game play Sunday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, with a repeat match up on Tuesday.

P1 variant confirmed

General manager Jim Benning confirmed the P1 Brazilian variant to be the cause of the outbreak. He also said the variant is why the Canucks were hit harder than other NHL teams that have dealt with COVID.

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has confirmed the teams COVID-19 outbreak was caused by the P1 variant initially detected in Brazil. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

“What was different with our situation is with the regular COVID it seemed that after 10 days players were ready to get back on the ice and start working out and performing. But we had players that when they did that, they still had symptoms,” he said.

Benning said the virus “buckled” some of the players, and that three or four regulars likely won’t be ready when games resume.

Head coach Travis Green, who also contracted COVID-19, has yet to return to practices.

Originally, the Canucks were supposed to host Edmonton Friday night in their first game back.

But after forward J.T. Miller publicly questioned the wisdom of forcing games when so many on the team were still recovering, the schedule was delayed.

‘Guys were not healthy’

“[J.T.] spoke on behalf of the team and it was needed. He basically got the ball rolling,” said Horvat. “Guys were just not healthy enough to play…. I think a lot more guys will be ready to go on Sunday.”

According to Horvat, no Canucks players have yet been vaccinated. That’s in comparison to the majority of players on U.S. teams — and their family members — who have. 

“It’s a little bit of a slower rollout here in Canada. We’ve  got to get the essential workers done first,” he said. “That’s out of our control and I guess we have to wait our turn.”

According to a Vancouver Coastal Health spokesman, the Vancouver Canucks organization does not qualify for the program of accelerated vaccinations to target workplace outbreaks because employees are not essential workers. 

Benning said Canucks practices will remain closed to media for the time being to give recovering players some privacy.

“Some haven’t been on the ice for three weeks,” he said. “We don’t want them to be judged.”

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