Hockey season is still a month off now that calendars have turned to September, but information on the 2021-22 NHL season is already filtering in.
On Thursday, the NHL’s new COVID-19 protocols were released to the public, and the mandates for unvaccinated players are quite rigorous. The NHL is set to play a full 82-game season in 2021-22, with the two conferences and four divisions as you would expect from a normal year.
This year, however the NHL has increased their COVID protocols, particularly for unvaccinated players. The NHL does not require its players to get vaccinated. Instead, it is imposing more restrictions and daily testing on its players, as well as possible suspensions. However, media members and those who have “personal interactions” or contact with hockey players must be vaccinated.
The biggest change in the system for clubs to suspend unvaccinated members who are “unable” to participate in club activities without payment for as long as they are out is the mechanism for clubs. Sportsnet , This includes situations in which a player is unable to travel due to federal, provincial/state or local regulations. ‘”
This last part is crucial, as the NHL will play games across the border between Canada and the United States, unlike the previous season. There are exceptions to this mandate. For example, players who have “sincerely held religious beliefs ” could be prevented from getting vaccinated.
And if an unvaccinated player does contract COVID who isn’t in an exemption category and “failed to comply” with the league’s protocols, 50 percent of costs associated will be charged to the player’s share of hockey-related revenue.
Reading the NHL COVID-19 protocols, let’s just say vaccinated and unvaccinated players will be treated very differently this season.
Different protocols, no pay if unvaccinated player gets sick, 50% of costs associated will be charged to players’ share of HRR, etc.
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) September 2, 2021
This is a steep price, but it’s one that the NHL has to pay to ensure its players are safe and keep the season running smoothly.
Plus: Unvaccinated players must have their vaccinations renewed every day. They are also prohibited from leaving the “internal venues”, such as the team hotel, practice area, or arena, while on the road. This means that players cannot visit other players’ hotel rooms or eat off-site at restaurants.
Vacinated players must be tested every 72 hour with a PCR test. They have no restrictions while on the road and, if they get COVID, will be paid their salary.
The NHL has an opt-out policy. Players must make a decision by October 1. A team will then have 30 days to decide if the player’s contract rolls over to next season or this season is skipped entirely. Opting out of the 2021-22 season would also preclude players from playing in other leagues or the upcoming Olympics.
Though the safest thing the NHL could do here would be to require vaccinations for all of its players, this is still a positive step in the right direction for the league in keeping its players, staff, media members, and fans safe as the 2021-22 season rolls along.