VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver Canucks are expected to make their long-awaited return to the ice Sunday after a lengthy layoff thanks to a devastating COVID-19 outbreak.
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Sportsnet analyst, Justin Morissette, believes the teams’ return to play is going to be an uphill battle, after a three-and-a-half week pause.
“For the most part been [they’ve been] pretty well affected by this virus. I would expect that they’re going to struggle … for a couple weeks here, if not the entire return to play schedule. This is 19 games in 32 days, that schedule alone would be exhausting for any team … it’s very, very difficult.”
Morissette explains earlier in the season, the Montreal Canadiens pushed back a couple games because of COVID protocols. However, when the team returned to the ice Morissette says they had to play a condensed schedule, “and that made them basically unwatchable because they just have nothing in the tank,” he says. “Especially when you’re asking them to play so many games in such a short time period.”
So the Canucks might have a tough time but Morissette adds it’s going to be nice to see them back on the ice.
“I think a lot of the city has been very afraid for what these guys are going through.”
Nate Schmidt and Jake Virtanen are the only two players still on the COVID-19 protocol list and they could come off that list before the game Sunday. But Morissette says it is worth remembering that does not mean that a player off the list is available to play.
“They still need to be cleared medically, and they still need to feel like they can play themselves,” he says.
“So Quinn Hughes for example, is not on that list, but we know he was one of the worst affected by this whole ordeal. He is the guy who needed to have IV drips brought to his home. It is probably safe to assume that he might not play in tomorrow’s game — just because he’s not on the list does not mean that he is going to be ready. Wnd if he is ready, then yeah, he’s probably going to be affected by this thing.”
Morissette says he hopes Vancouverites remember to watch the games with compassion.
“The results at this point of this season, do not matter, this is not a hockey issue. This is a human issue. And I hope we can remember that.”