This is great news.
According to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the NHL is expecting 98% of players to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the beginning of this season.
Expectation is 10-15 total players will be unvaccinated – subject to more stringent protocols.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 16, 2021
Woo! That’s really fantastic, and, as far as I can tell, well ahead of most other professional sports leagues in North America. And the good news doesn’t end there.
Get this: The Carolina Hurricanes already announced on Tuesday that they’ve reached the 100% vaccination plateau, and if Servalli’s report is accurate, they certainly won’t be the last team to achieve that status before the NHL season opens on Tuesday, Oct. 12, with the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Protecting ourselves. Protecting each other. Doing our part. pic.twitter.com/Xx1iQdtXyx
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) September 14, 2021
Toronto Maple Leafs’ winger Mitch Marner also told Sid Seixeiro in an interview that the Leafs have also reached the 100% vaccination mark.
— Michael (@TheLeafsIMO) September 14, 2021
On September 2 the NHL announced new COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-22 season that included stiff penalties for unvaccinated players including possible suspensions and loss of pay if those players tested positive and were held out of team activities.
Report: NHL COVID-19 Protocols Include Possible Suspension, Loss of Pay for Unvaccinated Playershttps://t.co/kVY2A5nRYp
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) September 3, 2021
As Mario summarized in his story on the new NHL COVID-19 protocols a couple of weeks ago, being an unvaccinated player in the NHL isn’t going to be very enjoyable at all.
Here are some of the restrictions:
• On the road, they cannot enter internal venues other than the team hotel, practice facility, or game arena.
• Not allowed to use the hotel gym, pool, sauna, steam room, or other shared facilities.
• Not allowed to have teammates, team staff, or visitors inside their hotel room, with the exception of a fully-vaccinated family.
• Not allowed to leave the hotel to eat (or purchase food) or use any restaurants/bars (in or out of the hotel) that are open to the public.
• Cannot pick up food except where the restaurant provides curbside pickup (or similar service) that does not require entrance to the main restaurant.
While the NHL and the NHLPA have not made getting vaccinated against COVID-19 mandatory for its players, they’re clearly using stringent protocols and steep financial penalties as motivation to get the vast majority of their players vaccinated before the start of the 2021-22 season next month, and it’s working.