Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021 | 4:58 p.m.
The Golden Knights are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, team general manager Kelly McCrimmon announced today.
The NHL imposed strict measures on unvaccinated players as an incentive to get inoculated. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said this week he believes the league is nearly at a 100% vaccination rate, and that fewer than 15 players will be subject to restrictions.
Some teams have drawn a hard line on unvaccinated players, including the New York Islanders and general manager Lou Lamoriello, who said he would not allow unvaccinated players to join the team and they are considering assigning the lone holdout to Europe.
The Columbus Blue Jackets said they would not invite forward Zac Rinaldo to camp until he was vaccinated. The Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks have also had assistant coaches leave their position instead of getting vaccinated.
The Golden Knights have been trending in the direction of full vaccination, and surpassed the 85% barrier in the playoffs.
After two shortened seasons, the hope is this season returns to more of what it was before the pandemic. The league will resume its 82-game calendar this year, including all teams traveling to all cities for games after only intra-division games last year. The Canadian border is back open to NHL teams, and Vegas will make its first trip north in November.
And while fans were allowed to T-Mobile Arena for games by the middle of last season, practices remained closed all year. This season practices will reopen to fans, starting with the first on-ice workout and scrimmage Friday, starting at 10 a.m.. Masks will be required, but vaccines will not.
It will be first time since the outset of the pandemic in March 2020 that fans will be able to see the Golden Knights practice.
“We’ve never appreciated fans more than we do now, because we had a stretch where we didn’t have them,” McCrimmon said. “Fans have never sounded better than they have post-COVID.”
Vegas players reported to camp earlier today and have their first workouts Thursday morning.