SPECIAL REPORT: Facets of family violence
What you need to know about COVID-19 today
Business Tool Kit 2021
Daily forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Continuing coverage: Mass shooting in Nova Scotia
IN DEPTH: Covering a contentious lobster fishery
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
Zack MacEwen lost his father Craig in early May to a massive stroke. His dad was only 48.
It was as shocking as a loss can be for the young Vancouver Canucks winger. His father, who worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs, had developed a blood clot in his heart. Surgeons removed the clot but there were complications and the long-serving public servant never recovered.
“It was a very unexpected, life-changing event. Coming back to playing hockey is definitely a little weird, having my father as my number 1 guy,” he said. His dad always wanted to know how things were going, who he was skating with and how his son was feeling.
“It’s a crazy thing, the unexpectedness of life.”
Teammate Troy Stecher’s father died just over a month later, the third Canuck to lose his dad this NHL season. Jacob Markstrom’s father died in November.
“Both of us took away from it that you just never know,” he said of the conversations he’s had with Stecher in recent weeks.
Getting to be around his teammates again, to get back to doing what he loves and is paid to do has been cathartic for him.
“I felt it coming back, all the boys are there. Everyone wants to help out whatever way they can,” he said. “There’s a normality of it.”
Both head coach Travis Green and captain and new dad Bo Horvat both said it was “unimaginable” what MacEwen, Stecher and Markstrom have faced this season.
“You can’t offer them advice but you can let them know you’re there for them,” Green said.
“I know how tight my dad and I am, it’s never easy to lose a family member, especially your dad,” Horvat said. “We want to do something special for their dads in the playoffs.”
Strong words for Jake
Horvat had some strong words for teammate Jake Virtanen after the forward threw a late hit away from the play during Thursday’s scrimmage, in apparent frustration over a botched breakaway.
“Just because you f***** up, doesn’t mean you get to run the f*** around,” Horvat said at the time. It was an exhortation that might have shocked a few onlookers had there been fans in the stands.
Asked about his leadership motivations in his reaction toward Virtanen, Horvat said the exchange was all about reminding his teammate to keep his eyes on the prize.
“I’m trying to keep things competitive, keep things fair. Keep everyone in the right mindset,” Horvat said.
Overall, he thought the pace of the scrimmage was great, even if the shortened lineups made for hard work on the lungs by the end.
“It bumped up the intensity,” he said. “With just 2½ lines you got a little tired toward the end of it.”
Coach Green also noted the pace of the scrimmage died down later on. “But overall I was happy with it.”
Brandon Sutter was declared unfit to play Wednesday and was absent again on Thursday for both the morning skate and the team’s evening scrimmage.
He skated as an extra forward Saturday, swapping in and out for Jay Beagle as the fourth-line centre for the most part.
Under the NHL’s new injury/COVID-19 reporting policy, players are only to be listed as fit or unfit to play, with no other details provided.
Micheal Ferland, who was declared unfit to play Monday and Tuesday, skated again Saturday with the smaller Utica Comets group. He skated with them Wednesday and Thursday as well.
“Unfit to participate in full practice,” was how Green described Ferland’s status.
Benn heads home
Jordie Benn’s fiancée Jessica Kohout is pregnant and their baby’s due date is July 24, so it was no surprise the veteran defenceman missed Saturday’s practice.
Benn headed back to Dallas where the couple have an off-season home. The Canucks are scheduled to travel to Edmonton on Sunday, July 26. Benn is expected to travel directly to Edmonton from Texas and serve a modified quarantine after his arrival.
Under the terms of the NHL’s Phase 4 protocol, Benn will quarantine in his hotel room and then has to test negative for COVID-19 four times in four days before he can re-enter the Canucks’ bubble.
The Canucks play an exhibition game against the Winnipeg Jets on July 29 and open their best-of-five play-in series against the Minnesota Wild on Aug. 2.
Olli Juolevi skated in his place Saturday on the fourth pairing.
SNAP SHOTS — The Canucks are simulating a game night on Sunday, with a 7 p.m. scrimmage. … MacEwen skated on the third line with Antoine Roussel and Adam Gaudette in Saturday’s practice, while Jay Beagle centred Tyler Motte and Loui Eriksson, leaving Virtanen as a spare forward alongside Sutter. Virtanen didn’t play well in Thursday’s scrimmage. … Netminder Michael DiPietro returned to practice with the second group. He’d also been absent since Wednesday. … Jalen Chatfield also skated with the main group, the second time this week he appeared on the right side of the fourth pairing.
CLICK HERE to report a typo.
Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected]
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020