Ben Kuzma: Canucks supported by no COVID-19 issues in Edmonton bubble


“It’s a testament to how seriously they (the NHL) take this and all the protocols to make sure they keep their players safe. – Bo Horvat.

No bubble problem.

It was the heartwarming first impression of what the Vancouver Canucks went through when they arrived in downtown Edmonton on Sunday and practiced Monday afternoon.

Heading into their only exhibition game Wednesday against the Winnipeg Jets and their best of five qualifying rounds with the Minnesota Wild starting on Sunday, it wasn’t about calls, line combinations or tempo on Monday. It wasn’t about off-roaders or Zack MacEwen in training.

He knew the Sutton Place Hotel – their home away from home – and Rogers Place are complying with coronavirus pandemic safety decrees.

If the entourage of 52 Canucks members needed further evidence, the NHL provided it Monday morning. The league reported that during a period of July 18-25 that concluded Phase 3 of its return-to-play plan, there were no positive viral tests among 4,256 tests administered to more than 800 players. .

And among the referees and linesmen of the NHL, who have been holding mini-camps in the Edmonton and Toronto hubs since July 21, there have also been no positive tests.

By comparison, baseball is in crisis mode.

Two games scheduled for Monday have been postponed as the Miami Marlins faced an outbreak of the virus that left the club stranded in Philadelphia because nine players and five staff tested positive on Friday.

The Marlins ‘home opener against the Baltimore Orioles has been called off, as has the New York Yankees’ game in Philadelphia. The Yankees would have been in the same clubhouse that the Marlins used last weekend.

It’s early, but Edmonton and Toronto can take a curtsy.

“I’m really impressed,” said Canucks captain Bo Horvat. “It’s a testament to how seriously they (NHL) take this and all the protocols to make sure they keep their players safe. This is a huge plus. And it’s great that the guys are taking this seriously too and not putting themselves in vulnerable situations where they could attract the virus and put their teammates at risk.

“And we have to keep doing this. It’s unfortunate what happened in baseball and we don’t want that here. But we are all in a bubble and we are tested every day and there shouldn’t be any issues as long as we are smart.

Canucks general manager Jim Benning was very impressed with the security measures in place.

“It’s pretty buttoned up and pretty tight,” he says. “No one enters (in the bubble) or leaves it and it’s incredible all the logistics that are linked to it. We talked to the NHL about being the host city, so we kind of had a sense of what to expect and they did a really good job.

“You cannot walk around the hotel if you are not wearing a mask and if you are not there are security guards to tell you.”

What Travis Green told curious minds on Monday was not a bulletin board. His players become anxious. They are ready to play and look forward to Wednesday.

“There’s been a lot of build-up to get to this point,” said the Canucks coach. “You can feel the energy in the room.”


For media not associated with the league or a team, COVID-19 was the obvious story on Monday as they are not allowed in practice and will only watch games from far above the ice surface. It’s a post-practice and post-match Zoom conference world where teams decide which players will be available.

The Associated Press Sports Editors and Professional Hockey Writers Association have “vehemently” opposed “unfair” and “restrictive” policies that allow unhindered access to three journalists employed by the NHL. They say the policies were never discussed with editors and editors before the hub edits and that three freelance editors should have the same access.


Quick, small and skillful winger Nils Hoglander, 19, a Canucks second-round pick in 2019, has 16 points (9-7) in 41 Swedish Hockey League games this season with Rogle BK Angelholm and 11 points (5-6) in seven world junior championship games to help his country win bronze.

With the uncertainty as to when the NHL camps will open in the fall – mid-November is the best bet – he will spend the first two months of next season with the same SHL club.

“It will keep him playing,” Benning said of the 5-foot-9 bowling ball who signed a three-year entry-level contract on April 29. “They have an earlier start to the season there and that keeps him in training. The (loan) agreement we have is that when we start our camp, he’s going to come.

THEWe translate: Alex Edler is the Canucks’ nominee for the King Clancy Trophy which honors leadership qualities and contributions to the community with investments of time and resources.

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