NHL says 98 percent of players will be vaccinated by opening night; only few players decided against it

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told multiple media outlets Friday that the league projects 98 percent of its players will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by opening night of the 2021-22 season next month.

According to that math, fewer than 15 players would not be vaccinated by Oct. 12.

“We want everybody fully vaccinated and, obviously, the last couple of months have shown that that doesn’t necessarily preclude the fact that people are going to get the infection,” Daly told The Athletic. “But it certainly increases the likelihood that it’s not a serious health and safety concern.”

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NHL will only have handful of players not vaccinated

Like other major sports leagues in North America, the NHL is not mandating that players be inoculated, but it will enact separate sets of rules and guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated players. If unvaccinated NHL players contract COVID-19 and miss games or practices as a result, teams will be allowed to suspend those players and dock game checks.

NHL and the 2022 Winter Olympics
Feb 12, 2020; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Gary Bettman commissioner of the National Hockey League with a smile during the Sedin’s retirement ceremony prior to a game between the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

On the other hand, vaccinated players who experience so-called breakthrough COVID-19 infections will be treated as though they have hockey-related injuries, per the protocols, and won’t be at risk of suspension without pay.

“People can make their own decisions, but the right one would be to get vaccinated,” Trouba said Thursday at the annual NHL/NHLPA player media tour. “I think it’s great that it’s come this way, and hopefully we get 15 more guys vaccinated.”


NHL coaches are required to receive a vaccine. The Columbus Blue Jackets fired assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre because he refused to get vaccinated. San Jose Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson also stepped down because he could not take the vaccine due to an undisclosed medical reason.

–Field Level Media