Report: NHL Considering Withholding Pay If Unvaccinated Players Miss Games with COVID

Adam WellsAugust 14, 2021

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 02:  A general view of the NHL Logo on the scoreboard during the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders on March 2, 2021 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ..(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NHL is discussing possibly not paying unvaccinated players who miss time during the 2021-22 season if they test positive for COVID-19.

Per The Athletic's Michael Russo and Katie Strang, the NHL Players Association "strongly urged its members to get vaccinated" during a recent conference call. 

One anonymous player estimated about "about 80 percent of guys think we should all be vaccinated, then the 20 percent that are like, 'No, this is stupid, we shouldn't have to,' which I guess we are all entitled to our own opinion."

Russo and Strang noted the NHL and NHLPA are still discussing health and safety protocols for the upcoming season. 

In addition, the Canadian government updated its travel restrictions Monday for American citizens and permanent residents of the United States. 

Per the restrictions, unvaccinated individuals entering the country are required to quarantine for 14 days. Players on a U.S.-based team would need to be vaccinated in order to play road games against any of the league's seven Canadian clubs. 

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email to Russo and Strang that there is "still lots of back and forth and lots of things still on the table" regarding negotiations about protocols for the upcoming season. 

The NHL modified its health and safety protocols during the Stanley Cup playoffs for fully vaccinated players and teams that had a vaccine rate of at least 85 percent. 

Modifications for fully vaccinated individuals and teams included no longer following quarantine requirements if exposed to the virus and the allowance of social gatherings of up to eight people, including fully vaccinated people not in the team's travel party. 

The 2021-22 NHL regular season is scheduled to begin on Oct. 12 with a doubleheader featuring the debut of the Seattle Kraken against the Vegas Golden Knights and the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins.