The Vancouver Canucks are one of four NHL teams whose training camp has been disrupted by COVID-19.
The Canucks cancelled their practice entirely on Sunday, citing “an abundance of caution.” That they returned to practice on Monday was a positive sign. Or, rather, it was a negative sign: everyone on the team tested negative for the coronavirus.
According to Canucks head coach Travis Green, the cancelled practice was due to a false positive for a player on a COVID-19 test. The players get tested every day when they arrive to the rink and one of those tests returned positive, causing the team to cancel practice while waiting for the results of a follow-up test.
“We wanted to drag all you guys down here and then make you turn around and drive home,” joked Green with the media on Monday, before taking a more serious tone. “We had a false positive test come in. At the time we didn't know if it was false positive or not and we wanted to take the proper precautions. It just felt like it was best if we stayed off the ice and waited to see.”
So far, the NHL has reported positive COVID-19 test results from just one team during training camps. The Dallas Stars reported eight positive cases — six players and two staff — on Friday, though Mika Zibanejad of the New York Rangers has also revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19 prior to training camp. He took part in his first full practice on Monday.
“As a result of the positive tests, and as an appropriate precaution, the team’s training facilities have been closed, effective immediately, and will remain closed for several days while further daily testing and contact tracing is conducted,” said the NHL in a statement about the Stars’ positive tests.
Originally slated to start the season on January 14th, the Stars’ first three games have been postponed due to the tests and they will instead play their first game on the 19th.
If the Stars’ situation didn’t register on the radars of the Canucks, Sunday’s scare certainly did.
“It's a little bit of a wake up call,” said Green, “Just making sure that we're doing the right things and also the next time it happens, it won't be as big of a surprise. I felt like our group, it was best that we gave them the day off yesterday mentally too.”
Quinn Hughes called it a “good warning.”
“There's things we're gonna have to sacrifice if we want to play,” said Hughes. “There's no bubble, so you've just got to rely on everyone being professional and staying out of places they shouldn't be in.”
“I know that we're out of quarantine but it doesn't mean that we should be eating out every meal,” he added. “At least for me, I'm trying to stay home as much as I can and have my mask on and follow the rules and I think everyone's been doing a really good job at that.”
Canucks captain Bo Horvat even suggested that the false positive might have been a good thing for the team to experience.
“I'm glad this kind of happened to give everybody a wake up call now rather than later on,” said Horvat. “I'm just happy everybody's safe and we've got to just keep following the proper protocols to make sure everybody's safe and healthy.”
For the Canucks, a key word for the entire season will be “adaptability,” something new teammate Nate Schmidt emphasized.
“Classic case of adaptability,” he said. “You can’t be naive to think that things like this aren’t going to happen.”
A few minutes later, Schmidt turned into the slogan for the entire year: “2021: Adaptability.”