New Jersey Devils Mackenzie Blackwood Undecided on COVID Vaccination

Mackenzie Blackwood

New Jersey Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood is currently unvaccinated against COVID-19. Blackwood said that he’s mulling over his decision. He wants ‘to check off a couple of boxes and not rush to do it” when he talked to the media. He’s currently the only unvaccinated player on the team.

Mackenzie Blackwood Currently Unvaccinated

Blackwood missed six games in January in NHL COVID-19 protocol and he could be ineligible to play in some games this season. The 24-year-old would miss nine games this season unless the Canadian government eases restrictions for unvaccinated players. New Jersey’s first game north of the border is Dec. 3 at the Winnipeg Jets.

The Thunder Bay, Ontario native is one of eight goalies to play at least 82 games over the last two season. He finished with a 14-17-4 record, a 3.04 goals-against average, a .902 save percentage and one shutout in 35 starts last season. New Jersey took him in the second round, 42nd overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Teams are allowed to suspend players unvaccinated players if they can’t participate in club activities or play in games. The NHL estimates approximately 98-percent of its players will have been vaccinated before the season begins Oct. 12. Some notable unvaccinated players include Tyler Bertuzzi and Zac Rinaldo. All three players have Todd Reynolds as their agent.

What it Means

Devils coach Lindy Ruff is going to take things one game at a time. Jonathan Bernier likely gets the start, but it could hurt the team if they don’t have Blackwood ready to go. The Devils may have to go out and get another goalie if this issue isn’t resolved. Scott Wedgewood is also on the roster, but the club might be hesitant to give him some starts.

The good news is that Blackwood has time to get his shot and be compliant before the trip to Canada. Having Blackwood miss games would be a big blow to a team looking to make a move in the Metropolitan Division.

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