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Photo Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Nils Höglander added to COVID-19 list and the latest on the Vancouver Canucks

One Vancouver Canuck — Nils Höglander — has been added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list as the organization continues to navigate an explosion of cases.

This now means the total number of players on the active roster in protocol has climbed to 17.

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On Monday, DFO Rundown Podcast hosts Jason Gregor and Frank Seravalli had guests Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger join the show, where they spoke about the latest on the organization’s battle with COVID-19.

Dreger: The symptoms that some of these players and personnel and family members have had to deal with with the Brazilian variant have been extreme and unrelated to some degree to COVID-19. In general, at least what we’re accustomed to hearing about when you talk about symptoms and all those things. You know, we know that the virus is incredibly contagious, but in this case, this variant has been super contagious, and it literally just blitzed the Vancouver Canucks. So you know, there can be issues of containment and questions. Why didn’t they do this? Why didn’t they do that? But the end of the day, when this thing arrived, it absolute swept through that organization. It’s starting to trickle now at least that’s the way it seems. So the recovery can begin. But man, what a devastating situation for this club.

LeBrun: There’s more than hockey at play here and I worry about the players families. You know, on the hockey side. I think this was yet another wake up call for everyone in the league and that’s why the memo went out over the weekend from the NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daley, just using this as an unfortunate reminder because I think the league has started to see a bit of slippage from different situations around the league as far as respecting the protocols. And so a memo went out, just to remind people, ‘hey, you know, we’re still in the pandemic, let’s get through the season here.’ But I know a lot of people were wondering, you know, why does it even make sense to have the Canucks come back and play and I understand that in the emotion of the moment, but the reality is, the Canucks do want to come back and play once they’re through this and once everyone is safe, so the league has, you know, shared with them some dates that might make sense if they can get through this and they are going to try and play 56 games, which means though, that you know, right now we have games going up to May 11 in that so called buffer week that Frank and Dregs and I have talked about all year. They are going to schedule games right up to I think May 14, at the very least, to try and, you know, flesh out the the North division at the end there.

Seravalli: There’s two things that are crazy to me. One is, this is a team that is under strict protocol that’s been tested every day and some days more than once a day. And you see how this variant has rippled through the entire team. It’s incredible. Think about what society in general is like, for people that aren’t getting tested that don’t even know they’re carrying it that are just passing it along in super spreader events. Like, that’s what blows my mind. And the other part is, I just don’t know how we can get to 56 games for the Canucks. Are we looking at two weeks from now, before they could potentially start playing again, right? I think at a certain point, the league is going to have to face this head on and say, Look, we’re going to schedule the games that have playoff implications, get those in first. And then we’ll take the rest of it. As you know, as much as we can squeeze in we will. But if we need to go to points percentage for the teams that are outside the playoff mix. I think that’s the only way that makes sense at this point.

Dreger: Well, I think the next five to seven days are going to be important for both the Vancouver Canucks and from a league perspective as well, in dealing with some of the sources in Vancouver and covering this story over the weekend. I mean, talking to guys there, they can’t imagine having to play hockey again in the next 14 days. And so the NHL is sensitive to that and that’s why I use that window of five to seven days. Because, you know, the planning has to move on. And you have to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the Vancouver Canucks are going to be able to play the 56 even though logistically, it seems like a nightmare. But the problem that the League has is they can talk about it internally. But nobody in Vancouver really wants to hear it. At least not for another week. I mean, there was an additional test, from a player standpoint come in on Sunday night. So we’re not certain that this club is is is done. I mean, it feels like it’s starting to trickle out. But there’s no guarantee that it can hit them even harder, be it organizationally or just as importantly, is your their families and extended families.

LeBrun: And they have players from Utica go through it as well, on top of it all, which seems unbelievable to think about because obviously some of those Utica players, I think are going to be needed whenever the Canucks come back and try to ice a team. But one thing that I thought was a bit interesting because I keep thinking, because we’re used to hockey being so different than basketball in terms of the schedule, playoffs and so on hockey always waits for a clean start to every round and for the regular season to be over. But one thing that we learned from the league over the weekend is that it is possible that the North division can keep playing out that week of May 10. And the US division start their playoffs without the North division if they have to. So that just tells you how unique the season is that the NHL would would be thinking that might be, you know, a way to get around all this.

You can listen to the full podcast episode below.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]