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Vancouver Canucks return as training camp gets underway

Last Updated Jul 13, 2020 at 11:46 am PDT

Thatcher Demko at the first day of training camp after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the NHL season in March. (Courtesy Twitter/Canucks)

The Vancouver Canucks have hit the ice for the first day of training camp

This is the first day of training camp since the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the regular season in March

Sportsnet 650's Perry Solkowski says players are likely having some difficult conversations behind closed doors

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Canucks have returned to the ice for training camp at Rogers Arena after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the NHL season in early March.

The season is set to resume in Edmonton and Toronto on August 1, kicking off a two-month Stanley Cup tournament.

NHL Players’ Association members ratified a new collective bargaining agreement last week, paving the way for the commencement of training camps in 24 cities.

Players had to agree to extensive protocols governing camps and the bubble environment around where games are played, requiring them to be separated from their families for up to six weeks this summer.

The Vancouver Canucks are scheduled to play the Minnesota Wild in Edmonton on Aug. 2.

Teams are expected to travel to the hub cities on July 26. When it’s all said and done, the 2019-20 NHL season could span a full calendar year.

Game faces on, but concerns loom

It’s been about four months since the last game was played. Bouncing back is no easy feat, according to Sportsnet 650 Starting Lineup co-host Perry Solkowski.

He says he’s spoken to Canucks head coach Travis Green who said staff have been looking at potential changes, and how far they can go.

“I don’t think we will see, at least from the Vancouver perspective, too much juggling going on, as far as different works on the lineup or different systems in place,” Solkowski says. “You try to get them used to what they knew from March and see what they can do when they go into the playoffs.”

And while the players say all the right things about playing during a pandemic, Solkowski suggests it might be a different story behind closed doors.

“More so than any other sports,” the NEWS 1130 sister station morning show host says. “Away from microphones, in family houses in the last month or two, I bet you there’s some tough decisions that they’ve made and the players, most of them, as we see right now, at least, before camp starts, have decided they’ll throw their hat in the ring and play hockey because that’s what they love.”

Some players have expressed concerns across the NHL with plans to resume the season. While none of the players in Vancouver have apparently been vocal about potential issues, not everyone will return to play.

Sven Baertschi is among players who have opted out, while Micheal Ferland was deemed unfit to play.

On Monday — at the start of Phase 3 — the NHL said there were 30 confirmed positive COVID-19 test results in Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol.

The results stem from 4,934 total tests that were administered to in excess of the 600 players who reported to team training/practice facilities for optional participation in Phase 2.