The National Hockey League is struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic like the rest of us, but its latest outbreak is reportedly its most serious. The Vancouver Canucks are playing in a modified all-Canadian division this season, as travel between the United States and Canada has been heavily restricted during the pandemic.
But while cases in Canada have been dwarfed by its neighbors to the south, according to reports in recent days the Canucks have been stricken with a massive outbreak of cases with some serious symptoms for players and staff. On Sunday, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported some serious symptoms from Canucks players and staff.
Number of positive cases climbing within the Vancouver Canucks. More than 20 players/coaches combined have tested positive. Variant symptoms include vomiting, cramping and dehydration. Family members are getting it. Scary situation. Next 5-7 days will determine scheduling.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) April 4, 2021
An ESPN story from Emily Kaplan added new details to the outbreak, starting with the fact that half of the team’s players had already tested positive for COVID-19 and 14 were already on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list. The outbreak, which is of the more-infectious P.1 variant of COVID-19 that originated in Brazil, has spread rapidly in the Vancouver area and also impacted players’ family members as well.
Some players are symptomatic, and according to several sources there are a few who are in “rough shape.” One Canucks player told ESPN he hadn’t heard from a team representative about any players going to the hospital, but he had heard of teammates receiving IV treatments for severe dehydration, presumably at their homes. A source told ESPN that at least three Canucks coaches have tested positive for the virus as well. In addition, many family members of players have tested positive and are experiencing symptoms, according to sources.
“Fatigue, dehydration, the symptoms are intense,” one agent of a Canucks player told ESPN. “It’s knocked a lot of guys out. Some can’t even get out of bed.”
The Canucks outbreak was first reported on Tuesday, and while some teams have had individual players and coaches contract bad cases and experience lingering symptoms, several otherwise healthy players unable to get out of bed is a terrifying prospect for a professional hockey team. As reports on Sunday continued to highlight just how significant the outbreak is and the symptoms players and coaches have experienced, there’s even been some speculation about whether the Canucks will be willing to resume play at all.
Source close to the Canucks situation – “This is the first wave of it where I’ve heard guys really question whether it’s worth playing or not.”
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) April 4, 2021
The situation in Canada has grown worse in recent weeks as many areas of the country expect a third wave of cases despite vaccinations and much fewer cases than in the United States. As the Toronto Star outlined, variants of COVID-19 have made the situation there worse than it was over the last year, even while parts United States saw peaks at various points of the spring, summer and holiday season.
While the NBA and MLB have essentially circumvented Canadian restrictions by having their Toronto teams play in the United States, the NHL doesn’t have that luxury with seven Canadian teams in the league. That certainly complicates things with the Canucks outbreak and puts the league schedule at much greater risk as the team deals with the fallout of what’s been a very serious COVID-19 outbreak. The league has already delayed the start of its postseason a day after significant rescheduling needs due to outbreaks on teams like the Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils. But if the Canucks aren’t healthy enough to play, or simply don’t want to, things could get really complicated here in a hurry.