In the weeks leading up to the second full pandemic-era NHL season, nearly all players are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 98% of players will be fully immunized by the start of the season, per Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli.
Expectation is 10-15 total players will be unvaccinated – subject to more stringent protocols.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 16, 2021
Almost Every NHL Fully Vaccinated
The news comes three weeks outside the start of the season, which is set to be a return to the NHL’s normal division alignment. Seravalli says only a handful of players will not be vaccinated against the virus. Those players will be subject to more stringent protocols. While on a road trip, for example, unvaccinated players would not be allowed to go anywhere other than the team hotel, practice facility, or game arena.
A couple of weeks ago, the NHL announced unvaccinated players who are unable to participate in team activities due to local COVID-19 restrictions will be suspended. Anyone employed by an NHL team must also be fully vaccinated if they work directly with players or staff.
Great News for the NHL
The 98% vaccination rate is great news for the league which needs things to go well this year. Many NHL teams have already instated vaccine mandates to attend games. With players immunized to boot, it appears this season should run smoothly (knock on wood). Smooth is what the league needs. The NHL is introducing a brand new team and an expensive American TV deal. Additionally, players will be allowed to compete in the 2022 Olympics. Any COVID-19 hiccups could throw the entire season off-track.
Last year, the Dallas Stars were late to start their season because of COVID-19 issues. Most of the Vancouver Canucks roster also fell ill with the virus causing a two-week hiatus to their schedule. Following an exciting offseason that featured significant player movement due to the flat salary cap, a COVID-19-free NHL season is what the hockey world needs. The vaccination rate is a promising first sign that’s what we’ll get.
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