To say most of the Vancouver Canucks players are unhappy would be an understatement. Need proof, just listen to comments from team forward J.T. Miller who wasn’t shy about sharing his thoughts on what the NHL is asking the team to do by returning to play on Friday after the organization was forced to take three weeks off and come back to play 19 games in 31 nights.
JT Miller on the Canucks' return to play. pic.twitter.com/L8pztkQ0FV— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 14, 2021
Miller found himself in a position to have to comment on what the NHL is asking the Canucks to do and he expressed his concerns about the health and safety of his Vancouver Canucks teammates. He was one of few players who didn’t catch the COVID-19 virus, but he’s aware of how much the illness crippled his team over the past 22 days. Still, the NHL wants the Canucks to get in all 56 games this season and with the number of infections dropping, the team is scheduled to return to play on Friday against the Edmonton Oilers.
They’ll play 19 games in 30 days, ending May 16.
“It’s kind of frustrating for me,” Miller said 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.” He added:
“To come back and play is going to be very challenging and not very safe, if you’re asking me. I’m sure there are other people who would agree with that.” “This is nothing to do with hockey. To be brutally honest, we’re going to need more time than this to come back and play hockey. Even the guys that didn’t get it aren’t ready.”
Miller is being commended by many on Thursday for having the courage to stand out against the NHL on this matter. It’s not likely to sit well with the league that one of their players is suggesting the NHL doesn’t have the safety of their talent pegged as their first priority.
The team had a Zoom call with NHLPA Wednesday night and almost immediately following Miller’s comments. They expressed their concerns about not being ready to play Friday-Saturday. A league source confirms that the Canucks’ weekend games might change again…Based on medical evaluations being done today with players and staff.
Medical testing for some players before practice today will be an important factor in what comes next. The majority of players are meeting with the Canucks medical team before they are scheduled to practice this morning. They will all have cardiology tests and NHLPA and NHL medical groups will touch based again later today to discuss options.