NHL players Tyler Bertuzzi Josh Archibald

These NHL players are unvaccinated, and suffering consequences

Choosing “freedom” over a full salary, some of these guys have been speaking at PPC rallies and spreading misinformation on social media.

Despite each of the three COVID-19 vaccines being approved by the world’s top medical and scientific experts, some NHL players just aren’t buying it. The 2021–22 NHL regular season is due to start on Oct. 12, and all players must be fully vaccinated in order to play a full season with as few COVID cases as possible. Unfortunately, some (incredibly selfish) players are outright refusing to do what’s necessary to help us all get out of this hellish pandemic — and with that comes significant implications. Here’s a breakdown as to why.

What happens if they refuse to get vaccinated? 

If a player is unvaccinated during the regular season, they cannot travel to games on the other side of the Canada-U.S. border. This is because unvaccinated people going to Canada must quarantine for two weeks upon their arrival, meaning those players would miss significant time for their club. As far as the league’s concerned, NHL players who remain unvaccinated will miss out on a percentage of their salary for the year, and their team will get cap relief.

These NHL players are unvaccinated, and suffering consequences

Which players have refused the vaccine? 

Several NHL players are known so far to not yet be vaccinated. The most high-profile of these is Tyler Bertuzzi. The Detroit Red Wings forward (and nephew of controversial former Vancouver Canucks star Todd Bertuzzi) has chosen not to get vaccinated prior to training camp, citing “freedom of choice.” Wings GM Steve Yzerman has said that Bertuzzi will not be able to play any of their road games in Canada.

“For the foreseeable future entering Canada, you can’t enter Canada unless you’re vaccinated, so that obviously will be an issue when we go to play Canadian teams. Does that change or not? I have no idea. But as of now and under the Canadian laws, I guess, he wouldn’t be able to cross the border, so he wouldn’t play in any games in Canada.”

With this in mind, it’s worth mentioning that Bertuzzi is a native of Sudbury, ON, and the Red Wings have three Canadian teams (Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs) in their division. By missing those nine games in Canada, Bertuzzi would lose more than $450,000 in pay during the upcoming season. Everyone else in the Red Wings organization is 100% vaccinated.

The Columbus Blue Jackets also recently banned Zac Rinaldo from attending their training camp. The veteran enforcer is expected to begin the season with their AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters. Just prior to the federal election, Rinaldo spoke at a People’s Party of Canada rally in Hamilton, ON, where he praised the far-right party for their anti-mask views.

Perhaps the most brutal consequences of being unvaccinated are being handed to Edmonton Oilers winger Josh Archibald. This is because the Oilers will be crossing the border frequently, meaning Archibald could miss more than 30 games this season. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Archibald has been sharing anti-vax conspiracy theories on social media. (UPDATE Oct. 4: It has been reported that Josh Archibald contracted COVID-19 as well as the COVID side effect myocarditis, a heart condition that may spell the end of his hockey career.)

These NHL players are unvaccinated, and suffering consequences

Both Mike Smith and Duncan Keith also needed convincing before eventually getting the jab. The Oilers can either attempt to trade him to an American team, or send him down to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield, CA — a city notorious for its sky-high levels of air pollution. If you ask me, I’d much rather make hundreds of thousands of dollars playing alongside Connor McDavid.

Joel L’Esperance of the Dallas Stars is also unvaccinated heading into their camp, due to “personal and family reasons.” New York Islanders prospect Bode Wilde is also openly refusing the vaccine, taking to Instagram to write this incredibly entitled and moronic comment.

“Hoping my human rights are enough to let me play … what a world.”

Good lord. This is exactly when you need Mr. Krabs in the room to play the world’s smallest violin.

Are any Montreal Canadiens players among them? 

As of now, mostly no. However, Jesse Ylönen, who’s expected to start the year with the AHL’s Laval Rocket, initially refused vaccination, which caused him to miss the Habs’ rookie camp earlier this month. However, reports state that he has since had a change of heart, and has already received his first dose.

After Ylönen gets his second, the Canadiens’ organization will officially be 100% vaccinated. This includes coaching staff — in fact, Habs fans might notice how Sylvain Lefebvre, the team’s former AHL coach frequently blamed for mishandling the Habs’ youth development, was working as an assistant with the Columbus Blue Jackets until he was recently fired for refusing the vaccine. Womp womp. ■

For more on the forthcoming NHL season, please visit the league’s website.

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