Right after the NHL shares good news in the form of low positive testing numbers during training camp, COVID-19 rears its ugly head yet again. And in a major way for the Vancouver Canucks. GM Jim Benning announced this evening that forward J.T. Miller and defenseman Jordie Benn will not be available to the Canucks for the start of the new season as they comply with COVID-19 protocols. Benning did not provide a timeline as to when the pair will re-join the team, but promised more information will be shared soon
Benning did say that this is a reality that his team and many other will have to accept this season. Yet, it is still a harsh blow at the very outset of the new campaign. This may not be a matter of a few games’ absence, either. TSN’s Matthew Sekeres hears that Miller and Benn could miss a couple of weeks while quarantining. He adds that Miler has been staying with Benn which is likely how the two were exposed. GlobalBC’s Richard Zussman was told that one player has had a series of contradicting results and the other is considered a close contact.
Miller, 26, was Vancouver’s best player last season. He led the Canucks with 27 goals and 72 points and his presence was felt even when he wasn’t scoring as he posted a team-leading 59.2% face-off rate and 123 hits in 2019-20. Miller even led all forwards in ice time with over 20 minutes per night and it is easy to see why. The all-around power forward is a major loss for the Canucks as the hope to get off to a hot start. Benn, 32, plays more of a depth role for the Canucks but was to be relied upon to help acclimate rookies Olli Juolevi and Jack Rathbone to the NHL level. Other veterans will need to take on a greater role in his absence.