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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 4, 2020
Remember the Vancouver Canucks? They, like everyone else, had their personal and professional lives turned upside down by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
They haven’t been on the ice since March 10 when they beat the visiting New York Islanders 5-4 in a shootout.
Now that both the NHL’s board of governors and the NHL Players’ Association have voted to return to play, the Canucks will be back in action next week for a second training camp to get ready for what remains of the 2019-20 NHL season.
Here are 12 things to consider before Monday’s first formal team skate with head coach Travis Green:
1. Will everyone clear quarantine?
The Canucks had a swath of players travel to Vancouver from abroad, meaning they were self-isolated for 14 days as a cohort at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, which is about a two-minute walk from Rogers Arena.
Players travelling on commercial flights from across Canada were required to self-isolate for one week by the NHL.
To date, as far as we know, every Canuck has tested negative for COVID-19. The Canucks declined to provide an update on Friday, when asked.
That means they’ll be allowed to mingle as a group on Monday, not just in the smaller groups they were divided into for the past two weeks of pre-training camp workouts at the rink.
2. Can the players go home?
Once players have cleared their current cohort quarantine, which will be this weekend for most, they are allowed to return to their regular homes, assuming they still have one in Vancouver.
Any player, especially the AHL call-ups, will be provided with accommodation if they don’t have a place to stay. If any player without a permanent home in Vancouver brought his family along for training camp, the family will also be put up by the team.
3. How often are they tested?
The players were required to return a negative test within the 48 hours before their first use of team facilities. Since then, they’ve been tested every other day, with results returned within 24 hours.
4. Who will make the final 31?
When the Canucks head to Edmonton for the qualifying round at the end of the month — and then, they hope, the actual Stanley Cup playoffs — they’ll be allowed to take 31 players with them.
It’s certain they’ll take at least three goaltenders.
The Canucks have also added Sven Baertschi, Tyler Graovac, Justin Bailey, Brogan Rafferty, Ashton Sautner, Guillaume Brisebois, Olli Juolevi and Jalen Chatfield from the Utica Comets to their training camp roster.
With 25 players already on the roster — the 23 who were active when the season paused, plus the recovered Jacob Markstrom and Micheal Ferland — that means just five skaters out of those eight will make the expanded playoff roster, assuming they take both Michael DiPietro and Louis Domingue as spare goalies.
And when they get to Edmonton, they’ll all be back in strict quarantine, with almost no allowance for departures. Only emergency situations, like the birth of Jordie Benn’s baby at the end of July, will allow a player to leave and possibly return.
5. Who has the most to gain?
Given he asked for a trade numerous times this season, Sven Baertschi could do a whole lot for his stock if he forces his way into the conversation to be more than a warm body for this postseason exercise.
He skated well in the six NHL games he appeared in in November, but couldn’t put the puck in the net and in the end the coaching staff preferred other players.
The situation on the wings is even tighter now for the Canucks, but if he makes himself a must-pick player and then produces, other teams will likely take another look at him, especially since he’s got only one year left on his contract.
6. Who has the most to lose?
With the best-of-five play-in series against the Minnesota Wild, every lineup decision matters. Any player who falls down the pecking order during training camp is at risk of not playing at all against the Wild.
Jake Virtanen was producing points this season, but was mired in a seven-game scoreless drought when the season was paused. He’s being counted on to provide depth scoring, but the Canucks have options on the wings if he can’t do the job.
7. Tanev, Markstrom and Ferland are healthy?
Yes, the Canucks’ star goaltender is fully recovered from the minor meniscus tear he suffered in February.
Ferland also is said to be fit and raring to go after battling concussion issues for much of the season. He’s been skating with his teammates at Rogers Arena, but the key test for him is how he’ll feel after the practices get physical. The last time he tried to play in a game, on a conditioning loan for the Utica Comets, he felt a recurrence of concussion symptoms and wasn’t expected to play again in the 2019-20 season.
Veteran defenceman Chris Tanev, who said he probably would have missed a handful of games after he “tweaked” his knee in the last game the Canucks played against the Islanders, is also fully fit.
8. Can players opt out of training camp?
Yes, but that would be the end of their season. And while players in baseball, soccer and basketball are opting out of their return-to-play plans, as yet no NHLer has announced he’s not feeling safe enough to play.
9. When do the games start?
The Canucks will face the Wild in a best-of-five series in Edmonton next month.
Game 1: Sunday, Aug. 2, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: Tuesday, Aug. 4, 3:30 p.m.
Game 3: Thursday, Aug. 6, 3:30 p.m.
Game 4: Friday, Aug. 7, 7:30 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 5: Sunday, Aug. 9, 7:30 p.m. (if necessary)
— All games on Sportsnet
10. If a player or team official tests positive, who is considered a close contact?
On top of the players involved in training camp and their families, a group of support staff and coaches will be in contact with the players. They will also be regularly tested.
Anyone who tests positive will be isolated and if they are asymptomatic, they will be tested again. If they test positive twice while asymptomatic, they’ll be confirmed as positive and required to continue their isolation and be cared for as needed by medical staff.
If the confirmation test returns a negative result, they will remain isolated for another 24 hours and will be tested again. A second negative test in this situation would make the initial positive test considered a false positive.
When someone is confirmed positive, their close contacts will also be tested. Under the NHL’s guidelines, a close contact is anyone the positive person has been within six feet of for 15 minutes or longer in the 48-hour period leading up to the time the positive test was taken (if asymptomatic), or 48 hours before the onset of symptoms.
Close contacts who test positive will also have to isolate and then their close contacts will be tested using the same protocols as the original positive test.
11. How close can reporters get?
Media aren’t allowed to do in-person interviews; all interviews will be done over the phone or using video chat services like Zoom. If reporters are allowed to watch training camp in the stands, they’ll have to remain far removed from the ice and each other. (The Canucks are still confirming their plans.)
12. Do players have to wear masks?
The only time players don’t have to wear a mask is when they’re on the ice playing.
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Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020