NHL, NHLPA to have tough guidelines for unvaccinated players this season

Any unvaccinated players can receive suspensions and/or fines if infected with COVID-19

(WGR 550) – Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman is reporting that the NHL and the NHL Players' Association have agreed on COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-22 season.

Players that aren’t vaccinated are going to be dealt with harshly if they’re unable to take part in team activities.

Should this happen, players can be suspended. Friedman wrote this includes situations where a player can’t travel because of “local, provincial/state of federal regulations upon return.” The penalty would be one day’s pay for each day that they can’t participate in.

Friedman added that if a fully vaccinated player is confirmed positive, he will be treated as if he has a hockey-related injury.

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"Unvaccinated players who are not exempt... will not be paid if his team establishes, 'on the basis of a balance of the probabilities, that the player failed to comply with the terms of this protocol in a manner that was reasonably related to his contraction of COVID-19 and/or any resulting or related illness.'," Friedman wrote.

Players have until Oct. 1 to opt out of the season if they’d like.

Anybody that has a job that puts them to within 12 feet of a player must be fully vaccinated.

Here’s what Friedman wrote about road protocols for unvaccinated players:

“There are stiff rules for unvaccinated players. On the road, they cannot enter 'internal venues' other than the team hotel, practice facility, or game arena. They are not allowed to use the hotel gym, pool, sauna, steam room or other shared facilities. They are not allowed to have teammates, team staff or visitors inside their hotel room, with the exception of fully-vaccinated family. They are 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. They can’t pick up food except where the restaurant provides curbside pickup (or similar service) that does not require entrance to the main restaurant.”

Michael Russo of The Athletic in Minnesota is reporting that it’s estimated that 95% of the players in the NHL have been vaccinated. He also said media that are fully vaccinated and wearing masks, will be allowed in the locker room this season.