Canucks add seven players to COVID-19 protocol list as Brazilian variant found in team's outbreak

The Vancouver Canucks' season remains on pause as a growing COVID-19 outbreak that has overwhelmed the team has gone from bad to worse.

A source confirmed to ESPN on Saturday night that the more infectious Brazil variant of COVID-19 has been found among several of the cases affecting the Canucks, the first known cases of the new variant among NHL teams this year. That news was first reported by Canada's Postmedia.

The news came hours after the team added seven players to the league's COVID-19 protocol list, bringing the total number of players to 14. Sources told ESPN that two coaches were added to the list, bringing the total number of coaches in the protocol to three.

Seven players and a coach were already on the list, prompting the NHL to postpone Canucks games until April 8, with the practice facility opening no sooner than April 6.

According to sources, the Canucks' recent additions to the protocol list could keep them out of action even longer. The Vancouver region has recently become a hotspot for the P.1 Brazilian variant of the virus.

One source told ESPN that "there are some players in rough shape tonight."

The Canucks are the second Canadian-based team to have COVID-19 issues. The Montreal Canadiens had four games postponed in late March but have since returned to action. The NHL has now postponed 45 games because of COVID-19, though the first 37 postponements were all for United States-based teams.

For Vancouver, the issue began on Tuesday when Adam Gaudette was pulled from practice following a positive test result, which was confirmed positive later that evening. Travis Hamonic joined Gaudette on the protocol list on Thursday. By Friday, Alex Edler, Braden Holtby, Quinn Hughes, Zack MacEwen and Antoine Roussel were all added to the list as well, following additional testing and contract tracing.

Gaudette's wife, Micaela, tweeted on Thursday: "My hubby isn't in great shape but I'm taking good care of him!"

Micaela Gaudette also tweeted: "A human being gets sick with a virus we don't know much about and y'all are angry at him because you can't watch a hockey game."

Travis Boyd, Thatcher Demko, Jayce Hawryluk, Bo Horvat, Tyler Motte, Tyler Myers, and Brandon Sutter were added to the list on Saturday.