Listening to their players may have helped the Vancouver Canucks mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their locker room

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
2 years ago
After being among the worst-hit club of any North American sports team last year with their April COVID-19 outbreak, it’s safe to say the Vancouver Canucks are being extra cautious this time around.
After Luke Schenn and Juho Lammikko’s positive tests were revealed on Tuesday, the players expressed concerns over meeting for a morning skate to head coach Bruce Boudreau.
“We were able to social distance away from the rink and wear our masks at all times instead of going out there and being unmasked,” said Bo Horvat Tuesday. “To go out there and put ourselves at risk in the morning, it just didn’t seem right and it didn’t seem like it was the right thing to do; so [we] really appreciate Bruce hearing our side of the story from what happened last year and making it a no skate.”
For Boudreau, it was a no-brainer to cancel that morning skate and listen to his players’ needs, and that extends to the top of the organization with President Jim Rutherford as well.
“It’s very important we listen to them,” Rutherford, told Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre Wednesday. “But it’s not just this case. It’s everything we do as a team. The players have to play; that’s their job and they don’t get to make final decisions on certain things. But they’re such an important part to us and they need to be heard on everything, especially something this critical. When they voice their opinion, we listen and we act accordingly to the best we can.”
Last year during their nightmarish COVID outbreak, the Canucks’ players struggled to be heard, but that doesn’t appear to be the case this time.
Listening to their players and limiting their contact with potentially COVID-positive teammates appears to have paid off big time for the Canucks, who didn’t report any additional positive tests on Wednesday before leaving for San Jose, aside from assistant coach Jason King, who also tested negative shortly after his positive test as well.
Tucker Poolman, who tested positive and was subsequently pulled off the ice during the first period of Tuesday’s game against Columbus, has tested negative twice in a row according to Boudreau. The club is hoping that a third negative test today or tomorrow could allow Poolman to play in Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, instead of missing the 10 days COVID-positive players have to miss under the NHL’s COVID protocols.
Thankfully this time around, the players who have tested positive are feeling very mild symptoms, if any. Obviously, when the team was hit with an outbreak in April, vaccines weren’t yet available to them at the time, which is why some players were hit as hard as they were. Brandon Sutter, for example, still hasn’t played a game this season as he grapples with the effects of “long haul” COVID.
Canucks players felt safe enough to travel to San Jose, but there are certainly worries of testing positive in the United States and being unable to return to Canada in time to spend Christmas with their families.
Regardless, the Canucks are hoping they acted quickly and effectively enough to stop COVID-19 from spreading throughout their locker room for the second time in 2021.
Only time will tell if that’s the case, but two days in a row of negative tests among all players travelling with the team certainly looks promising.

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