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NHL delays Canucks’ return to play after COVID-19 outbreak

Vancouver forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” to play Friday night.
Vancouver forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” to play Friday night.DARRYL DYCK/Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The NHL has delayed the Vancouver Canucks’ return to competition.

The Canucks, who have not played a game since March 24 due to a COVID-19 outbreak, had been scheduled to host the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night. The league announced Thursday the team would not play that game and did not immediately set a new date for Vancouver's return.

The decision was made with input from the NHL Players’ Association and medical staff from teams, the NHL said.

Before the league made the announcement, Vancouver forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” to play Friday night because the pandemic-hit team has not had enough time to recover and get back in shape.

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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 teammates who were sick to return to play so quickly.

“It’s kind of frustrating if I’m being 100 percent honest with you,” Miller said Wednesday. “We try to talk about the No. 1 priority is the players’ health and the families’ safety, and it’s almost impossible to achieve that with what they’ve asked us to do here on our return.”

The NHL plans to announce additional changes to the schedule for North Division teams on Friday.