Canucks have five players added to NHL COVID-19 protocol list

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Defensemen Alexander Edler and Quinn Hughes, forwards Zack MacEwen and Antoine Roussel, and goalie Braden Holtby were added to the protocol list, joining forward Adam Gaudette and defenseman Travis Hamonic. The coach has not been publicly identified.

The Canucks have had four games postponed by the NHL, through April 6: at the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, and at the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday and Tuesday, in addition to a home game against the Calgary Flames that was not played Wednesday.

“The reaction to me is that very clearly they’re obviously on top of it and controlling it,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said Friday before the players were added. “I think the League mandated three or four games and they’re off a week. That’s basically all we can do in terms of hearing that story. We get tested every day, that’s the way it works. Hopefully they’re negative tests tomorrow.” 

Vancouver is next scheduled to play April 8 at Calgary. The Canucks cannot return to practice before April 6. Rescheduled dates for their games have not been announced.

“You never want to see teams get shut down, first of all,” Jets forward Mason Appleton said. “Obviously players have families and things like that, so hopefully it doesn’t spread throughout their families and kind of just stays at the rink.”

Gaudette was added to the protocol list Tuesday after leaving practice following what coach Travis Green said was a positive test for the coronavirus. Hamonic was officially added Thursday.

“I guess there’s always reminders as far as the importance of your safety, and following the guidelines and the rules that the League has set forth,” Green said Wednesday morning. “And not just the League, but the government.”

Vancouver has not played since last Wednesday, a 5-1 loss to Winnipeg after being shut out by them 4-0 two days before.

Calgary plays at the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

“You obviously want to try and avoid it,” Flames forward Sean Monahan said. “I guess sometimes it’s out of your control. You don’t want guys in the League to be getting the virus and you don’t want games to be postponed. … It’s tough news and it is what it is.”

Winnipeg will play at the Ottawa Senators on Monday; that game was scheduled for May 7.

“You’re hoping they can all kind of rebound and become the players that they were, that everybody gets healthy, that they’re fine,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice told the Jets website. “There’s also a reminder of vigilance here, that it’s not the time to get casual”

Vancouver’s road trip is scheduled to end with games at Calgary on April 10, and at Edmonton on April 12 and 14.

“Whether we have someone that gets it or not, everyone is trying their best to abide by the protocols,” Canucks forward J.T. Miller said. “The timing is obviously not great — there’s no good timing — but it doesn’t change anything. No matter what the circumstances, no one wants to get it, not one wants to spread it, nothing changes.”

Miller and Vancouver defenseman Jordie Benn were sidelined at the start of the season due to protocol. Benn missed six games; Miller missed three.

“It’s not ideal, obviously,” Miller said. “Everybody is trying to do the right things to not have the situation happen. [Adam’s] is different than mine. I didn’t have it. I don’t know 100 percent his situation, but in the sense of having to sit out and be away from your team, especially in a hard time of the year, it’s not ideal, but everybody is trying to do their best to make sure they are following protocol and make sure we don’t spread it.”

Hamonic opted out of the NHL Return to Play last season while with the Calgary Flames, citing family concerns. His daughter was hospitalized with a respiratory virus as an infant, and he had a newborn son.

Eight games in the Scotia North Division have been postponed this season, all since March 22. The Montreal Canadiens had four home games postponed due to COVID-19 protocol from March 22-28.

“Some of the American teams had gone through it earlier on and now it’s starting to hit our division,” Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira said. “It highlights how careful we have to be away from the rink. It’s such a short part of the year where we have to make a few sacrifices, staying in and not going out for dinner or to the grocery store and that kind of stuff.”

Edmonton played three games on a 10-day road trip from March 22-30; it was scheduled to play five.

“You confront [the changes] head on,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. “If you feel sorry for yourself, you’re going to be left behind. You might as well deal with what you can deal with. That’s how we play and how we control our emotions and how we go about our day to day. You have to stay focused on the task at hand, and that’s finding ways to win hockey games. Sometimes stuff happens that changes the dynamics of what’s going in the schedule and you can’t let that stuff bother you.” 

The Oilers are scheduled to play at Montreal on Monday and at the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday and Friday.

“I think it’s just one of those things, it’s how the season and the world has been, it’s one of those things you have to roll with the punches,” Khaira said. “I think the League, they’re trying their best to do what they can. The guys want to play, and at this point you have to roll with the punches and just be ready when the games are scheduled.” 

There have been 50 games postponed since the NHL season began Jan. 13, including 45 because of protocol. Five games have been postponed because of weather-related issues.

The NHL regular-season schedule has been extended to May 11; it was originally to end May 8.

“I think the schedule some ways is almost irrelevant,” Sutter said. “You know you’re going to play every other day, and the teams had mostly had their longer breaks in their schedule, so they have to get the games in, in those few days at the end in early May, where the schedule was over on Saturday, you know that it’s going to be extended at some point. I think you just have to focus on the game. It’s like going to those tournaments when you were kids, hope you get to play three on Saturday.” 

NHL.com independent correspondents Derek Van Diest and Kevin Woodley contributed to this report

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