VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A day after Vancouver forward Bo Horvat said the Canucks have instituted a "Fortnite" ban for the upcoming season, there was talk in NHL arenas about whether it is fair to blame the popular online game for performance on the ice.
Winnipeg star Patrik Laine, who plays the game, suggested the Canucks needed a scapegoat.
"I think they just needed something to blame after last year," Laine said in an obvious shot at the Canucks' 31-40-11 record last season. "And we kind of made a deal if we're playing like that, we can give up our PlayStations so we're not going to take them on the road. But I don't think that's going to happen."
Asked about the comment Wednesday, Canucks forward Jake Virtanen said "Fortnite" hasn't been an issue, adding: "Whatever. I don't really care what he says."
"I just think that where we want to go with our team, anything we can do to get better, that's a stepping stone," he said, according to The Canadian Press. "You can only go up from last year. ... We want to be focused all the time when we come to the rink but have fun at the same time. But it's all business here."
Some have expressed concern in hockey, particularly at the major junior level, that young players who hold marathon gaming sessions pay for it on the ice with poor performance. Why "Fortnite" in particular has set off alarms is unclear.
"It's a PlayStation game," said Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers, who like Laine is a "Fortnite" fan. "Our jobs are to play hockey, and we need to be prepared to do that every single day. We know what we need to do to get ready for a hockey game, and it's not playing "Fortnite" till 2 a.m."
In Toronto, Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman downplayed the concerns.
"I don't think 'Fortnite's' the problem," Hyman said. "I think that you can get addicted to anything. If you're sitting there playing 'Fortnite' for 12 hours a day, it's probably not the best thing for you, but if you play it like a normal person -- one or two hours a day -- then you're fine. ... If you're going out all night [partying], you're addicted to going out. That's not good either."
Hyman did not see a need for a gaming ban in Toronto, though defenseman Jake Gardiner wasn't as sure.
"I wouldn't mind [a ban] either," he said. "Video games get out of control. You're on the road to spend time with teammates."
In Ottawa, the Senators aren't planning a "Fortnite" restriction.
"Some of us like to play it quite a bit on this team, but we're never on too late or too long," forward Colin White told the CP. "I can't even explain how addicting it's become. It's just grown worldwide and half our team plays now, so it's a good topic in the morning."