For the past two seasons, the NHL has been impacted (like everything) by the COVID-19 pandemic. The season came to a screeching halt in 2020, then there was the playoff bubble in which the Islanders got to participate in, and then the shortened 2021 season last year.
This year, the NHL will be playing a full 82 game season but there will still be protocols for the 2021-2022 season. Yesterday, the NHL Players’ Association and the league finalized their agreement.
The Athletic reported that teams will be able to suspend unvaccinated players who are “unable to participate in club activities”. The player would forfeit that day’s pay for however long they are unable to participate.
The exceptions to the policy are for players who are unvaccinated due to medical or religious reasons.
Now, if a fully vaccinated player or an exempt player tests positive it will be treated as a hockey-related injury. So there would be no loss of pay for anyone who falls into either category.
Unvaccinated players will also need a seven-day quarantine when they report to training camp and they need to wear a face mask when around the team (not on the ice).
Just last month, the NHLPA strongly urged its members to get vaccinated. The league has lost revenue over the past two years and nobody wants to see another shutdown or outbreak of the virus.
With the potential hit to the wallet that unvaccinated players would be facing, both the league and the NHLPA are setting up a system that entices players to get vaccinated.
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In August, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed north of 85 percent of NHL players are vaccinated via The Athletic (subscription required). This past April, Lou Lamoriello said the Islanders were encouraging but not mandating players to get vaccinated.