The Vancouver Canucks had two positive COVID-19 tests as of Tuesday morning, as Luke Schenn and Juho Lammikko were placed on the NHL's COVID protocol list. Further tests done in the morning resulted in defenceman Brad Hunt joining Schenn and Lammikko on Tuesday evening.
Despite three players testing positive for COVID-19, the Canucks' game against the Columbus Blue Jackets went on as scheduled but not every player completed the game.
Tucker Poolman was pulled off the ice late in the first period. While concerns were originally raised that he might be injured, the Canucks announced that he has been placed on the NHL's COVID protocol list.
Poolman played eight shifts for a total of 5:37 in ice time before he left the game and, of course, was on the bench with all of his teammates and coaches while still in the game in the first period.
The question must be asked: why was Poolman allowed to play at all? It raises questions of whether the Canucks received all of their test results from Tuesday morning prior to the start of the game. They clearly received at least some of those results or Hunt would not have been placed in COVID protocol.
The Canucks were initially planning to hold their morning skate after Schenn and Lammikko tested positive. UUltimately, it was the influence of the players that led to it being cancelled.
"it's our decision, but we work with the players," said new president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford. "There has to be a comfort level here and nobody was comfortable here at the building this morning nor would we expect them to be. So when we found out that the players were uncomfortable, we just felt that it was better to play it safe this morning."
There are echoes of last season here. The Canucks COVID-19 outbreak last season was exacerbated when the team held a morning skate despite Adam Gaudette testing positive for COVID-19. The same could have potentially happened Tuesday morning but the players spoke up, much like they did last season when they were concerned about their post-outbreak schedule.
The game, however, continued as scheduled. The NHL has postponed other games due to positive COVID-19 tests but that didn't occur in this case.
"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.
One major difference from last season is that everyone on the Canucks has received two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. That means players are likely to be asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms and should avoid long-COVID symptoms like those that Brandon Sutter is currently dealing with.