Duncan Keith Wanted More NHLPA Support for Players Not Wanting the COVID-19 Vaccine

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Duncan Keith Wanted More NHLPA Support for Players Not Wanting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Chicago Blackhawks

Not only is it still difficult to see Blackhawks legend and future Hockey Hall of Famer Duncan Keith playing with another team, it is difficult to hear him say he wanted to see more support from the NHLPA for players not wanting to get the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the 2021-22 season. Talking with the Edmonton media on Friday afternoon, Keith talked about feeling pressure to get the COVID vaccine ahead of the season.

In most cases, you want to see the NHLPA fully have the backs of the players. But the league was expecting maybe a dozen players not to be vaccinated by the beginning of this season. The overwhelming majority of players got the vaccine and amid the strict COVID protocols the league put in place this season (and, you know, wanting to not get and/or spread a deadly virus) it made a lot of sense to get the vaccine.

For Keith, he said he felt “pressure” to get the vaccine just to play hockey, which didn’t sit well with him.

A number of players have come forward with their decisions not to get the vaccine like Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi, New Jersey’s Mackenzie Blackwood, New York Islanders’ Bode Wilde, and Columbus’ Zac Rinaldo. Wilde was sent to Europe by the Islanders and Rinaldo was sent home by the Blue Jackets. The NHL has essentially set the precedent this season that unless you are an important, every day player on the NHL roster, they don’t want you anywhere near the organization.

Keith’s comments are even more staggering when you remember that not 10 days ago, the Oilers announced that goaltender Alex Stalock would have to miss the entire season because of a heart condition he developed after contracting COVID earlier in the year.

If only Stalock had tried harder to keep his immune system strong and healthy, eh?

It baffles me that professional athletes who treat their bodies like science projects, don’t see the value in being protected from a virus that has the ability to ruin your ability to breathe. We have seen with the Blackhawks and the return of Jonathan Toews, who believes he had COVID in February of 2020 and has experienced “long-haul” symptoms, how important it is for players to remain as safe and protected as possible from the virus for their health, and their pockets. Luckily for the players still in Chicago, they are 100% vaccinated ahead of the season.

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Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.