Former Canuck Brandon Sutter talks long COVID recovery, potential NHL return, and more

Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
1 year ago
Brandon Sutter last suited up for an NHL game on May 1st, 2021. In that game, he and his Vancouver Canucks teammates lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs by a final score of 5-1.
That was, of course, only after the team rallied together on April 18th to beat the Leafs in what was the Canucks’ first game back after over 20 days off due to nearly the entire team contracting COVID-19. Although he played in eight NHL games after contracting the virus, Sutter’s following offseason was one from hell.
After the Canucks signed him to a one-year contract worth $1.125 million, Sutter’s offseason training took a turn for the worst in August as he ramped up his workouts to prepare for Canucks training camp.
Today, Sutter made an appearance on Donnie and Dhali – The Team to talk more about his struggles with long COVID. First, Sutter updated how he’s feeling right now, nearly two years after he contracted the virus.
“Yeah it’s finally improving,” said Sutter. “Finally starting to feel better, making some progress. It’s been a long road for sure, got to learn more about my immune system than I ever thought I would, but I’m starting to see some light in the tunnel for sure and just becoming a good dad again and starting to come around for sure.
“Day to day now, I’m back to working out again, which feels good because for the longest time I couldn’t do much for training or skating or nothing. So I’ve been working out and I’ve been skating with the Rebels in Red Deer again here, so I’m just trying to kind of keep my body going… I’m not sure if I’ll get back playing or not, but I’m at least going to give myself a chance and I’m hopeful to give it another try in the fall if I can.
“But again, like I said, it’s nice being back to just feeling better. I still got some work to do. I’m not quite normal yet, but it’s nice to be a normal dad, a normal guy again, and I can kind of get through the day-to-day stuff without too much difficulty.”
Sutter and his Canucks teammates caught the virus in late March, and played their last game on March 20th prior to their season coming to a screeching halt.
“Yeah, it is frustrating. It comes out of nowhere. When we got it as a team, we all didn’t feel good,” Sutter said. “I think there was something like 18 of us, 19 of us that got it. We were all pretty sick for two weeks, especially those first three or four days — it was horrible.
“I think we played, what was it, maybe 20 days after we all kinda got it. Wasn’t much [of an] issue then, I didn’t really feel anything was bothering me. It was kinda mid-summer, I guess a couple months after the season, that I started noticing just difficulty breathing sometimes. Like, I couldn’t figure out what it was. And then when I really started ramping up my training in August, and my skating and everything, I just started realizing there was no way I could do this.”
It’s now been nearly two full seasons since Sutter last played in the NHL. He never played a game for the Canucks during his last contract, which expired  in July of last year.
But it certainly doesn’t sound like the 770-game NHL veteran is ready to call it a career. The opposite, actually.
“Coming into next year, who knows? I really don’t know,” Sutter said. “I think, at that point, the best case for me, if it’s with a team, would be to just do a PTO or tryout. At least I’d know if I put myself through it and see how it goes, because I doubt there’ll be anything else happening other than that.
“I’m just trying to get myself healthy, feel good. And I know if I feel good, I can play again. So that’s kind of my mindset. And I kinda still have that drive for it,” Sutter added. “I’m not gonna say you take it for granted when you’re healthy and playing, but the second it’s gone and taken away from you, you really do realize how much you missed the game but also just being in the dressing room and with the guys.
“I’m gonna give it my best shot.”

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