The NHL has confirmed that the Vancouver Canucks will not return to play from their lengthy COVID-19 pause Friday night versus the Edmonton Oilers as originally hoped.
"The decision to extend the period prior to the team’s resumption of play was made to provide Club staff and Players with additional time for recovery and preparation following its recent COVID outbreak," the league said in the prepared statement.
"Additional changes are being made to the Scotia NHL North Division schedule and it is expected that a revised schedule will be released by tomorrow."
Vancouver hasn't played since March 24 due to the COVID-19 outbreak that included at least 25 people testing positive for the virus, and players only resumed skating sessions and practices this week. Before Thursday's announcement, the NHL intended to have the Canucks play 19 times in 31 days to finish all 56 scheduled regular-season games between Friday and May 16. That is no longer an option, and what it means for the all-Canadian North division remains up in the air.
According to the calendar on Vancouver's website, the Canucks are still scheduled to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Previous reports suggested that game will also be postponed.
The NHL said last weekend the other three divisions could begin postseason play in the United States as the North finishes regular-season action through mid-May, if necessary.
Canucks forward J.T. Miller openly told reporters on Wednesday he thought it was "dangerous" he and teammates were being rushed back into action so quickly as some were still recovering from setbacks linked with COVID-19 infections and others hadn't yet had any real opportunity to reach required in-game fitness levels.