VANCOUVER – The NHL is allowing teams to re-open facilities on Monday, but the Vancouver Canucks will keep Rogers Arena closed until there is demand from players for ice and training space.
Only three Canucks, defencemen Alex Edler, Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher, have spent the coronavirus shutdown in Vancouver. A fourth player, injured winger Josh Leivo, stayed in town for medical treatment.
Nearly half of the team’s NHL roster is outside of the country and these players are extremely unlikely to return to Vancouver until the league and the federal government solve the issue of Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for arrivals.
"We can’t order players to report back here," Canucks general manager Jim Benning said Friday. "Until training camp starts, this is all optional for them. There are only three players here and they all have ice available (privately). We’ll continue to watch what’s happening and when there are enough players, we can re-open our facilities pretty quickly. But right now they’re still closed."
Benning noted that there are stringent guidelines under Phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play protocol, including testing and monitoring procedures for COVID-19, that make it impractical for the Canucks to re-open Rogers Arena for only a handful of players. Currently, there is no ice in the arena.
Benning remains hopeful that there will be a solution to the quarantine issue facing players return from the United States and Europe. Nearly all of them have ice and training options where they live, so nobody is going to fly to Canada if it means sitting in their homes for two weeks while other players are practising.
Among the international Canucks, key players J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes and Tyler Toffoli are in the U.S., while Elias Pettersson and goalie Jacob Markstrom are in Sweden, where professional teams have been able to practise under coaches in small groups throughout the global pandemic.
The NHL last week said Phase 3 and training camps, ahead of a planned 24-team Stanley Cup tournament in the summer, won’t begin until at least July 10.