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J.T. Miller unsure if safety is priority amid Canucks comeback

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'Not ideal for anybody': J.T. Miller unsure if safety is priority amid Canucks' comeback

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Jim Morris · for CBC Sports · Posted: Apr 14, 2021 9:10 PM ET | Last Updated: 9 hours ago

Vancouver forward among few who didn't contract COVID-19 in outbreak

 
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Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller, shown during training camp in January, questioned Wednesday whether the decision for an expedited return to play following the team's COVID-19 outbreak is motivated by health and safety. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
 

 

At a time of year when making the playoffs is usually his priority, J.T. Miller finds himself more concerned about the health and safety of his Vancouver Canucks teammates.

Miller is one of the few Canucks lucky enough to avoid falling ill to a COVID-19 variant that has crippled the team and forced the postponement of seven games. With the number of infections dropping, the Canucks are scheduled to return to play with home games on Friday against the Edmonton Oilers and on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. That begins a slate of 19 games in 30 days, ending May 16.

 

"It's kind of frustrating for me," Miller told a teleconference on Wednesday. "We try to talk about the No. 1 priority being the players' health and their families' safety. It's almost impossible to achieve that with what they have asked us to do here on our return.

 

"To come back and play is going to be very challenging and not very safe, it you're me. I'm sure there are other people who would agree with that."

Making the playoffs was already going to be difficult for Vancouver, even before the virus spread through the team's dressing room. Knowing the health issues players are facing has put things in perspective for Miller.

WATCH | Concerns intensify as Canucks' outbreak grows:

 
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Canucks season in question as COVID-19 outbreak grows to 25 people

7 days ago
1:55
Twenty-five members of the Vancouver Canucks organization have tested positive for a COVID-19 variant and it has put the remainder of the team’s season in question. 1:55

"To think about the playoffs, when guys are still recovering from this and are expected to be ready to play, it's frustrating," he said.

"This doesn't have to do with me not wanting to play or not believing in my team. It's an extreme scenario and dangerous to a lot of our players. I want to make sure our priorities are in the right spot."

Heading into Wednesday night, the Canucks were 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the North Division.

Difficult schedule awaits

The team's gruelling schedule includes six sets of back-to-back games — beginning with six home games in nine days.

"It's a crazy schedule when everyone is healthy," said forward Tanner Pearson, who also avoided contracting the virus but has been sidelined since March 17 with an injury. "Who knows how guys are going to react when they come back."

Jim Benning, Vancouver's general manager, said the Canucks won't wave the white flag.

 
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Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning says a six-game stretch of home games will help the team as it returns to play on Friday after a lengthy absence due to a COVID-19 outbreak. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

"I'm hoping we can win our share of games here so we can make it competitive going down the stretch," he said. "At some point, we might get some young guys in the lineup."

Benning said the opening home stand will help.

"Hopefully our guys get feeling better, their families get feeling better," he said. "Once we get out on the road, they have that peace of mind their families are doing well, and they can concentrate on hockey. In this season, with all the things you have to deal with, with COVID and stuff, it is what it is."

Head coach Travis Green is one of the 22 players and four coaches made sick by the virus. His status is unclear."

"He is feeling better every day," Benning said earlier this week. "Hopefully he is ready to go when we get back."

As of Wednesday, the Canucks had seven players remaining on the NHL's COVID-19 protocol list.

Minimal recovery time

Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, said it can take a minimum of two weeks for a person to recover from COVID-19. This can extend to more than four weeks for people with more serious cases and those who have suffered an inflammation of the lungs or brain symptoms.

"If you're an elite athlete ... you're away from the rink for two weeks and now you're back to your usual state of health, how much practice time and what do you need to get back into your normal, athletic competitive self?" he said.

The Canucks last played on March 24. Forward Adam Gaudette was the first player to test positive for COVID-19, on March 30. He was traded to Chicago on Monday.

Conway said he also has concerns about the Canucks' schedule.

"If I was being a cautious doctor and a doctor that's advocating for my patients, I would say at most you're going to be able to play in half of those games, because you're basically not going to have the endurance to do all of those games," he said.

Players who had significant cases of COVID-19 should only play every third day. Anyone feeling any reoccurrence of symptoms should be pulled from the lineup.

J.T. Miller said he has skated a couple of times over the last few weeks.

"My lungs are screaming and I'm definitely not in game shape," he said. "I can't imagine what these guys [who were sick] are going to have to go through.

"I never thought I would be in this scenario. It's not ideal for anybody. We have a job to do, I guess."

 

 

https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/nhl-vancouver-canucks-covid-outbreak-1.5988199

 

Personally, I feel the same way. It's pretty selfish taking the chance and not only that but the risk of injury.

 

Edited by nux4lyfe
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If they need to shut down certain players and bring up players from Utica and the taxi squad then that sounds good to me. Let our players get their health back in order the season is a wash anyways. Plus is we get a high draft pick from it then so be it.

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Have to agree. I think it is misguided to think this team can compete after what they just experienced. I would shut them down for the remainder of the season. Health and safety above all else.

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while I agree with JT and respect him calling out the league. However. 
We have guys that have sat on the taxi squad and a few call ups plus those who haven’t got sick.

Play  the crap out of them and rest the ones who need it even if it’s on the bench PP and limited minutes. 

send a message to the league that our players safety and Heath come first especially when we’ve been terrible all season. 

the coach and so called GM should be able to manage the players ice that need it.isn’t that their JOB!

 

 

pushing them to try to get wins is pointless 

We are at a point where losing does more good.

time to improve those lottery odds. 

but then again it FA and JB and the big picture had never been part of the 7 year “quick turn around” “ refool.””Competitive” “winning eviroment”  ...


 

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I wonder whether Canucks fans will have enough common sense not to hate on players, coaches and management should they dare lose one of the upcoming games.

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So, Miller speaks out against the NHL, basically, maybe even the Canucks owners/management. Does he get traded in the off season?  

 

Where's Bo? Is he feeling okay?  

 

I wonder if tomorrow's game will even go ahead. What kind of circus that'll look like.  

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5 minutes ago, Canucklehead53 said:

I can understand where J.T. is coming from but I also understand that the league needs to continue - I dont understand why things cant be pushed back a bit to give them a couple more practices but what do I know...

 

What really bothers me Daly saying that Vancouver's situation has been faced by other teams and the schedule is fine - no! this is unprecedent when 20 players were just sick with COVID. No other team ahs had that many players at the same time. That makes it different.

 

If the comments were more compassionate (or even any sense of compassion what so ever) I would be fully understanding (or at least mostly)

NHL is business. Money always take precedent. 

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A schedule like that, no time to get in game shape, and a bunch of players whose longer term effects from having covid are still unknown.

 

What could possobly go wrong?

 

I understand the NHL and the owners want things back to normal so they can make money but if this wasn't high money professional sport there is no way medical professionals would allow this.

 

Other teams needing to beat up on a depleted Canucks team to make the playoff races exciting doesn't seem like the right thing to focus on.

 

If theCanucks are forced to play, safety of the players, not pushing for impossible playoffs shoukd be the goal. Play a bunch of the young guys and don't push the regulars to kill themselves for money.

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2 minutes ago, wallstreetamigo said:

A schedule like that, no time to get in game shape, and a bunch of players whose longer term effects from having covid are still unknown.

 

What could possobly go wrong?

 

I understand the NHL and the owners want things back to normal so they can make money but if this wasn't high money professional sport there is no way medical professionals would allow this.

 

Other teams needing to beat up on a depleted Canucks team to make the playoff races exciting doesn't seem like the right thing to focus on.

 

If theCanucks are forced to play, safety of the players, not pushing for impossible playoffs shoukd be the goal. Play a bunch of the young guys and don't push the regulars to kill themselves for money.

Agree completely...I'm as a corporate suit as they come (been there since I started working in 1989), but safety of players should be the ONLY priority. 

 

Personally, I would be more interested in seeing how players on the taxi squad, new acquisitions, prospects play at this stage. 

 

And like the boys on the SN650 were saying this morning, I would play the hell out of Loui Eriksson.  Extract value out of Loui for the money he's getting.  JK...in all sincerity, Loui deserves just as much care and respect for his health as anyone else (sorry, couldn't resist a Loui jab...I'll see myself out the door).

 

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18 minutes ago, SID.IS.SID.ME.IS.ME said:

I’d advise the players to consult with their reps and make sure they have a good understanding of their rights, as laid out in their contracts, the CBA, and the 2020-21 Transition Rules. I’d also advise any player who got sick, to consult with their own doctor, as well as the team docs and league reps.

 

The players have pretty strict protections, written into the actual documents, that safeguard their health and well being. And if they have any concerns about how team or league medical personnel are looking out for their best interests, they can always consult their own doctor, or get a second opinion.

 

What absolutely should not happen is any player returning to action before he feels he’s physically, mentally, and medically ready to be cleared to play. And I’d suspect that no independent physician (as in one who isn’t employed by the team or league) would clear a player, if that player came in as a patient, and said he was having lingering post-Covid symptoms and didn’t feel he was ready to get back to work. And I’d hope that the team and league medical staff would take the same approach, and not rush anyone back who’s been sick.

 

But in some ways, it’s up to the guys to decide whether or not they’re fit to return and whether or not they believe they can cope with the new schedule.

 

If they feel they’re not ready, or there’s too much risk, they have a myriad of options that would allow them to delay their return to play, or opt out completely. They can not be forced, unless they allow themselves to be forced. It’s just not really “hockey culture” to admit anything that could be considered weakness, or to advocate for oneself individually, and go against the expectations for the whole team.

 

It’s also up to the team and the GM to make sure that the players don’t feel forced or like they’d be letting the team down if they choose to look after their own health. 
 

Everyone involved should be making sure that nobody feels like they’re being asked to do something extreme, or that they’re putting their health at risk. If any players are feeling that way, then the league, team, PA, and medical experts need to go back to the drawing board, and come up with a better approach than what they’ve got currently.

Absolutely. 100% agree.

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