FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Vancouver Canucks not allowing media into first practice after COVID-19 outbreak

VANCOUVER — Media have been barred from the Vancouver Canucks’ first practice since a COVID-19 outbreak swept through the team.

Thursday’s on-ice session was originally open to media, but the Canucks tweeted it was a “closed practice” two hours before the session was set to begin. No reason for the decision was given in the tweet.

Twenty-two players and four members of the Canucks coaching staff have tested positive for the virus since March 30 and Vancouver has not played since March 24. Eight of Vancouver’s games have been postponed.

The Canucks are slated to close out the regular season with 19 games in 30 days in their revamped schedule, starting against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

Vancouver forward J.T. Miller said Wednesday that it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for he and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday because the team has not had enough time to recover and get back in shape.

Miller did not test positive for COVID-19 during the outbreak but said he still isn’t in game shape and can’t imagine what it would be like for his teammates who were sick to try to get back to a high level of play so quickly.

Seven Canucks remained on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Wednesday, including defencemen Jalen Chatfield, Alex Edler and Nate Schmidt and forwards Jayce Hawryluk, Nils Hoglander, Zack MacEwen and Jake Virtanen.

A player on the protocol list has not necessarily tested positive. Players who are in self-isolation after travelling or who’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive, for example, are also on the list.

The list does not include team staff or players not on the active roster, including those on the taxi squad.

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