Canucks’ J.T. Miller says the condensed schedule after the team’s COVID hiatus is ‘not going to be too safe’

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The Vancouver Canucks have had 22 players and an additional four staff members test positive for COVID-19 since March 30. The team is finally expected to return to the ice on Friday to take on the Edmonton Oilers after what will have been a three-week hiatus.

Following Vancouver’s return, the team is currently scheduled to play 19 games in just 30 days, including six back-to-backs. Considering the lofty workload ahead, forward J.T. Miller believes that’s not enough time for Vancouver to get all of those games in.

“I don’t feel ready if I’m being honest… It’s kind of crazy. I know everyone has a job to do but to expect our entire team to be ready to play in one practice and a pre-game skate is a bit hard to comprehend,” Miller told reporters on Wednesday.

“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.”

The Canucks last played on March 24 — a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Vancouver’s COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in the team’s last eight games being postponed and the club just reopened its facilities on Monday.

Vancouver has seen the majority of the team clear COVID-19 protocols ahead of Friday’s game. However, despite most players clearing protocols, Miller still doesn’t believe what the group is being asked to do is very safe.

“I hope people don’t take this the wrong way, I’m a super competitive guy… but this isn’t about hockey for our team,” Miller added. “This is about the health and safety of our players, their family and their children. This isn’t about making the playoffs.”

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“What we’re being asked to do is not going to be too safe, if you’re asking me.”

Miller didn’t personally test positive for COVID-19, but conditioning has been an issue for himself and his teammates due to the lengthy layoff.

The Canucks currently have a 16-18-3 record (35 points) and sit in sixth place in the North Division having played 37 games. Even as the Canucks prepare to play  preparing to play on Friday, seven Canucks still appear on the NHL‘s COVID-19 Protocols List.

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