Good news for everyone hoping the Calgary Flames would have a less complicated 2021-22 season than they had in 2020-21. According to reporting by Sportsnet’s Eric Francis, the Flames’ main training camp group is completely vaccinated.
Speaking with Francis, Flames general manager Brad Treliving noted that players’ vaccination status won’t be a complication to begin main training camp, which opens next week:
As players arrive in town, one thing the organization doesn’t have to worry about is the possibility of a player refusing to be vaccinated.
“We’re 100 per cent vaccinated,” said Treliving. “We don’t anticipate any issues with our group.”
On one hand: awesome! On the other hand, this is probably what the league had in mind when they crafted their protocols. In their rules released in early September, the league begins with a pretty clear-cut central notion:
All individuals are strongly encouraged to become fully vaccinated (as defined below), ideally with an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine, where such option is available. Quite simply, vaccination is the most effective measure to protect against infection with COVID–19.
The NHL has collective bargaining and the players have input into the CBA. As such, the NHL couldn’t force them to get the vaccine. But the protocols included several incentives to get vaccinated and several disincentives from remaining unvaccinated.
One big disincentive: if an unvaccinated player contracts COVID-19, their team can suspend them without pay for as long as they’re unavailable due to the virus or the various regulations related to the virus:
A Club shall have the right to suspend an Unvaccinated Player who is unable to participate with the Club in Club activities and require the Player to forfeit the equivalent of one day’s pay (i.e., 1/200 of their Paragraph 1 NHL Salary for the 2021–22 Season) for each day during which a Player is precluded from participating in Club activities due to either this Protocol or applicable regulations imposed by local, provincial/state, and/or federal health authorities…
Protocols for fully vaccinated players are fairly minor, and amount to being masked and/or distanced in specific situations. Other than that, vaccinated players can go places and do things with few major restrictions, and they’re subject to regular testing. The protocols for non-vaccinated players are several pages long, and boil down to not really being able to go places or do things.
Life during the hockey season was designed to be much easier for vaccinated players, and across the league vaccination rates are thought to be quite high, in part because of the regulations that the NHL designed (but let’s face it, primarily due to vaccines being generally recommended for players by their many doctors). Due to everyone being vaccinated, the complexities and complications of a reason during an ongoing pandemic will be (somewhat) lessened for the Flames.
And after consecutive seasons involving coaching changes, off-ice controversy… and that dang pandemic, a relatively simple season probably sounds like music to the ears of everyone involved with the Flames.