It is just a fact of the NHL in 2021, 2022, and probably beyond that COVID will keep playing a part in the league. We have already seen the Ottawa Senators get shutdown this year, with the San Jose Sharks, New York Islanders, and others endure significant breakouts. Even with vaccinations, constant close contact will keep yielding positive results.
To that end, the NHL announced some new rules, or non-rules, regarding COVID boosters:
This may be something to monitor. We know vaccines provide significantly more protection, but it does wane over time, and boosters are necessary to maintain high levels of that protection. A lot of NHLers got their first shots sometime in the spring, which means most are rolling up on six months post-vaccine, or are there already. Not only is this a concern for fantasy owners, to be quite frank, this is a significant health issue for the NHL. Just look at the number of cases in the league and that's with everyone vaccinated. Imagine the numbers if the vaccine rate cuts in half because players don't get their boosters in the coming months.
It is my sincerest hope the NHL has a plan other than "we hope players get their boosters." It is clear that there are going to be continual breakouts across and that's with complete vaccinations. It could be a catastrophe in six weeks once many players are over a half-year from their first vaccine and go home for the holidays.
Really, it just sucks to have to keep talking about this. But until COVID is out of our lives and out of the NHL, we'll have to adjust as we go along.
Some good news for the Penguins as Evgeni Malkin was skating in full gear: