The Vancouver Canucks started Tuesday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets with three players in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol: Luke Schenn, Juho Lammikko, and Brad Hunt. They ended the game with four players in the protocol, as Tucker Poolman was pulled from the ice in the first period.
There was concern that there might be more players joining them on Wednesday, with the Canucks delaying their flight to San Jose to play the Sharks until they could get their results from that morning’s COVID-19 tests.
There was some fear that the team did have more positive cases, with CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal and The Fourth Period’s Irfaan Gaffar both reporting as much.
Fortunately, the Canucks had no further positive cases among the players and they boarded their flight to San Jose.
The specificity of the reports was notable. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Dan Murphy both reported that no players had tested positive and the same was echoed by Postmedia’s Patrick Johnston. Word from the Canucks only confirmed that there were no further positive cases among players.
That left open the possibility that there were further positive cases of COVID-19 among the Canucks’ coaches and/or staff. Sure enough, assistant coach Jason King was added to the NHL’s COVID protocol and did not travel to San Jose. There is no word on whether any other staff tested positive.
Because of the incubation period for COVID-19 — five to six days on average — there could still be more cases in the future for the Canucks but, for now, the outbreak has apparently stopped at four players and one coach for the Canucks.
Under the NHL's enhanced protocol, the Canucks will test again ahead of Thursday’s game against the Sharks, likely a PCR test in the morning and rapid tests ahead of their on-ice sessions: both the game-day skate and the game itself.
According to Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford, he does not actually know the criteria the NHL use to postpone or cancel a game.
“I don't know what guidelines the league uses to cancel games, but it certainly appears that it has to be a bigger number than what we're dealing with right now," said Rutherford before Tuesday’s game.