The Vancouver Canucks remain dire straits as COVID-19 continues to ravage the active roster, taxi squad, coaching staff and travelling party following an initial breakout early last week.
Beginning with Adam Gaudette being placed on the team’s COVID-19 reserve after test results pulled off the ice mid-practice on March 30, nearly the entire team has slowly been added to the list.
“As of today, 25 individuals have tested positive and the source infection is confirmed a variant – full genome sequencing by BCCDC will be required to determine which specific type,” read a release signed by Canucks’ team physician Jim Bovard and infectious disease physician Josh Douglas. “Among the 25 positive cases are 21 players (three players from taxi squad) and four members of staff. One additional player is considered a close contact.”
As of Thursday morning, the count increased to 26 members of the team infected with the virus. Despite shutting down all team facilities and organized activity, COVID tests continue to come back positive throughout the roster and the families of many players.
In probing the situation further, an examination has traced the cause of the Canucks’ outbreak back to a single player and decision he made to leave his bubble, to which transmission occurred.
“An ongoing investigation by Vancouver Coastal Health and club contact tracing staff attributes the source infection to a single individual obtained in a community setting,” the Canucks’ statement read. “This has since been identified by public health as a public exposure location. Rapid spread of infection throughout the team indicates a link between contacts and the primary case.”
Despite not looking to publicly shame the player in question, others around the league and those who following the daily happenings have taken note. On Wednesday evening, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that forward William Nylander would not be participating in Wednesday’s matchup against the visiting Montreal Canadiens, as he earlier had been deemed to be a close contact of a person who has since tested positive.
The individual whom Nylander had been in contact with was not a member of the Maple Leafs’ roster/staff, and this information only became public following Toronto’s morning skate. It was determined that Nylander’s exposure to teammates was not lengthy enough to be considered ‘prolonged exposure’, thus indicating no need to pull further players and shut down operations.
Clearly the decision-making processes of National Hockey League millionaires will be under even higher levels of scrutiny as cases and variants of concern continue to rise. Earlier in the season, the Washington Capitals were punished as a number of players were caught ‘hanging out’ without masks in he same hotel room while on the road. Evidently, a number of the Capitals players ended up testing positive for COVID shortly thereafter, highlighting further the importance of following protocols and staying within the team bubbles.
“The health and safety of players, staff, families and the greater community remains the utmost priority,” Vancouver concluded in its statement. “The Canucks are grateful for the continued support of local public health officials, the NHL and NHLPA and encourage everyone to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by following health orders. COVID-19 infections are rising in BC. This is a stark reminder of how quickly the virus can spread and its serious impact, even among healthy, young athletes.”