The NHL has cancelled two Vancouver Canucks games this weekend amid growing COVID-19 concerns.
In a statement, the team cited "a number of Toronto and Vancouver players entering COVID protocol over the past two days" as the reason for the postponement of Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The game was postponed about five hours before puck drop.
Sunday’s game between the Canucks and Arizona Coyotes was also postponed.
The decision to postpone the games came after consultation between medical groups from the league, the players’ union and the clubs, the Canucks said.
"Tickets for the Canucks games this weekend will be valid for the rescheduled dates," the team’s statement reads. "Ticket holders are asked to hold onto their tickets and the Canucks will provide more information as soon as it is available."
Speaking to reporters Saturday afternoon, Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford said he was disappointed by the postponements, but added that he felt they were the right decision.
"I wasn’t totally surprised," he said. "I was a little bit disappointed. I know that a lot of people came from out of town for this game. I feel bad for those fans that made those arrangements."
Rutherford said the Maple Leafs would’ve been a good test for the surging Canucks, who have won six straight games since dismissing former head coach Travis Green and hiring Bruce Boudreau.
The league is in the process of reviewing and revising its schedule, the Canucks said in their statement, adding that the team has followed and will continue to follow all health and safety guidelines from the NHL and local health authorities.
Meanwhile, Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers has been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
Myers joins teammates Tyler Motte, Brad Hunt, Juho Lammikko, Tucker Poolman and Luke Schenn, along with assistant coach Jason King, on the league’s list.
The Leafs are short-handed after adding forwards John Tavares, Alex Kerfoot, Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds to the protocol list on Friday.
Four games scheduled for Saturday – Florida at Minnesota, Boston at Montreal, Tampa Bay at Colorado and Columbus at Calgary – have already been postponed as NHL teams deal with a rise in COVID-19 infections.
Rutherford said there’s been no discussion with the league about postponing the Canucks games against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday or the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.
"I did ask that question to the league and they said, ‘We want to get through the weekend, now. We’ll look at next week when the time comes,’" he said.
The Canucks president said the league has not imposed any additional restrictions on the club, beyond existing COVID-19 safety rules.
"We can have fairly normal activities except playing the games," Rutherford said.
The league has said the Omicron variant is responsible for the uptick in cases.
With files from The Canadian Press
This story has been updated to correct Jim Rutherford’s title. He is the Canucks’ president of hockey operations. A previous version of this story referred to him as the team’s general manager.
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