NHL postpones Canucks, Senators games due to capacity limits

Associated Press

Bo Horvat and the Vancouver Canucks just want to get back to playing hockey.

The Canucks had another game pushed back Friday when the NHL announced it was postponing Saturday’s matchup with the Ottawa Senators due to ongoing attendance restrictions. The league also postponed a Senators-Jets game originally set for Jan. 15.

Vancouver Canucks left wing Tanner Pearson, left, is greeted by teammates after he scored an empty-net goal during the third period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Seattle Kraken, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Seattle. The Canucks won 5-2.

“We were obviously looking forward to playing and with the game getting canceled and us being off for a long time, we want to play hockey,” Horvat said. “We feel like we have a pretty good thing going right now and it just keeps getting delayed, which is frustrating. But we can’t let this discourage us. We’ve just got to keep practicing, keep our legs under us and get ready for (next week’s) road trip.”

Current health orders in British Columbia limit attendance at indoor sports events to 50% capacity. The NHL says the games will be rescheduled for later in the season when such restrictions may be eased or lifted.

Neither the Canucks (16-15-3) nor the Sens (9-18-2) have played since Jan. 1, and Vancouver hasn’t hosted a game since a 4-3 victory over Columbus on Dec. 14.

"It’s not ideal but I guess it’s the way things are going right now,” Vancouver forward Tanner Pearson said.

The Canucks have had seven games postponed since the middle of December. They won’t play again until Tuesday when they kick off a five-game road trip against the Florida Panthers.

After experiencing an outbreak that saw 21 players and four coaches test positive for coronavirus last season, Vancouver has seen several players enter the league’s COVID-19 protocol in recent weeks.

Five Canucks players remained on the list Thursday, though coach Bruce Boudreau was hopeful many would be able to return before the team embarks on its road swing.

The COVID-19 situation has been difficult to navigate, Horvat said.

“Just when you think things are getting back to normal, things like this happen. It is frustrating,” he said.

The Senators, meanwhile, remain in Ottawa during what should have been a five-game western road trip.

“To be blatantly honest, it’s like August when you’re waiting for the action to come and you push hard and you’re excited and then you realize you’re still three or four days away from camp opening,” coach D.J. Smith said. “It’s been really strange. But all you can do is get ready for the next game.”

Ottawa has been dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that saw nine players and an assistant coach placed in the league’s protocol, and forced Thursday’s game against the Kraken in Seattle to be pushed back indefinitely.

Defensemen Thomas Chabot and Dillon Heatherington, forwards Zach Sanford and Chris Tierney and assistant coach Bob Jones were all removed from protocol Friday.