Countless professional sports teams have had their respective schedules impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020.
The Vancouver Canucks are one of the latest teams to combat the issue. But their situation has been fairly different than most.
More than two dozen players and staff members have tested positive for the virus since the team stopped play after its March 24 game against the Winnipeg Jets. Only seven players remain on the list.
But that does not mean the team is ready to return to game action, whether fans (or the NHL) like it or not.
J.T. Miller is just one Canucks player to return a positive COVID-19 test amid the outbreak. He recently told The Athletic’s Thomas Drance he personally is not physically prepared to resume regular-season play after his bout with the virus.
He does not think he is the only one facing this issue, either.
“I hope people don’t take this the wrong way, I’m a super competitive guy … but this isn’t about hockey for our team,” Miller told reporters Wednesday, via Drance. “This is about the health and safety of our players, their family and their children. This isn’t about making the playoffs.”
Miller makes an incredibly important point here.
Yes, most of us are concerned about the health and safety of Canucks players and staff. But they are not the only ones we should be concerned about. And no, we are not just talking about their families.
Additionally, Drance reported a “soft consensus that the schedule is nuts” coupled with “nervousness about soft tissue injuries” in addition to “how those that had COVID symptoms will respond” once they hit the ice at game pace.
“What we’re being asked to do is not going to be too safe, if you’re asking me,” Miller told reporters on Wednesday.
“… It’s kind of frustrating if I’m being honest with you,” Miller added, per ESPN. “We try to talk about the No. 1 priority being the players health and their families’ safety, and it’s almost impossible to do what they’ve asked us to do here on our return.”
The Canucks’ team facilities remain closed until at least Monday after another team member returned a positive test. Vancouver still is expected to resume play Friday against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena.