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NHL Vaccination Protocols, Another Olympic Hurdle and Joe Thornton’s Final Destination?

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Monday Links, New and Notes

NHL: NOV 17 Sharks at Blues Photo by Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We are yet another week closer to the NHL season start. A season that will see fans return to arenas all over the league (we think!), a season that will possibly see some Olympics action, and a season where Brady Tkachuk will be a Captain in the NHL (we hope!)

  • With the fourth wave of COVID-19 well and truly upon us now, the NHL is ensuring that it takes all precautions to avoid any interruptions — and losses of revenue. This upcoming season the league will require all staff interacting with NHL players (within 12 feet) to be vaccinated. This pronouncements might lead one to conclude assumes that all players will also have to be vaccinated. That could prove interesting as surely a player or two will come out of this with some “thoughts” that might not look so great.
  • The initial NHL schedule was released with an Olympic break already baked in. However, it seems we shouldn’t get too excited just yet. The NHLPA has advised players against competing in the Olympics qualifiers happening in late August. This would affect any player from the 12 teams competing for the final 3 spots — most prominently Slovakia and Denmark. In addition, the NHLPA and NHL have announced they would not cover the insurance costs for missed time due to contracting the coronavirus overseas during the qualifiers or the actual Olympics tournament. How much do players want to play in China? Would they be willing to sacrifice potential paychecks? It remains to be seen how this whole situation will be handled. I do imagine some players like Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin will be fighting hard to get their last chance at the Olympics.
  • Joe Thornton leaving the San Jose Sharks was sad but expected after he repeatedly stated he wanted a chance at the Stanley Cup. His signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs to chase that dream was both shocking and turned out to be hilarious. Do his team in Toronto demoralize him to the point of signing with a non-contender? Joe Thornton decided to sign a 1-year term with the Florida Panthers. I’m not sure I’d consider the Florida real contender to win the the division, let alone the Cup, but best of luck to Jumbo Joe.
  • Remember Jaromir Jagr? Maybe he’s before your time. Did you know that the almost 50-year old is still an active hockey player? Jagr has decided to continue playing for the team his father owned for 20 years and of which he himself is now the proprietor. The problem is, Jagr doesn’t feel like he can do it for much longer but is in a situation where he feels that he must continue to play to keep the team afloat. It’s a shame to see Jagr feel like he can’t score a goal anymore and hopefully, there can be another way to keep this team alive without Jagr feeling like he’s embarrassing himself.
  • I know Sens fans, in general, don’t like the Pittsburgh Penguins but their most recent initiative deserves a lot of praise. The Penguins have created the O’Ree academy, which is a free and safe environment for Black youth hockey players to play and develop their hockey skills. The academy just completed its first nine-week session and is hoping to build on its success in the future.