• Reuters

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The NHL announced Saturday that the Vancouver Canucks will return to play on Friday, and the league’s regular season has been extended to May 16.

The Canucks have been idle since March 24 due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team.

Per the NHL, the Canucks can reopen their facilities for practice on Sunday, provided each player receives a negative COVID-19 test result.

Should a clean bill of health be achieved, the Canucks will play the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. That game initially was scheduled for May 4.

“A total of eight Canucks games have been postponed — March 31 through April 14. The League has rescheduled those games with the team’s 56-game schedule now ending on Sunday, May 16,” the NHL said in a statement.

“The Canucks’ organization has, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of its Players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, local, provincial and federal agencies.

“The NHL will continue to assess the progression of the regular season before announcing definitive dates for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the newly revised end date for the regular season for the North Division, it is possible that the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the East, Central and West Divisions could open a few days earlier than the North Division.”

The NHL regular season initially was slated to end on May 8 before it was extended to May 11.

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