Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi has declined vaccination for COVID-19, according to the team’s general manager Steve Yzerman on Wednesday, and as a result, he won’t be able to cross the Canadian border to play any games in the upcoming NHL season.
Yzerman said the team is following COVID-19 protocols, and the plan is for Bertuzzi to not travel with the team for games in Canada. The Red Wings have nine scheduled games in Canada for this NHL season (so far).
Current restrictions require a 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated players travelling into Canada — this would obviously not work with the busy NHL schedule.
“It’s his decision,” Yzerman said Wednesday to the Detroit Free Press. “I am not in a position to force anyone.
“We can’t force anyone to get vaccinated.
I personally am vaccinated, my family is vaccinated. I’ll leave it at that.”
Bertuzzi, 26, could be hit financially by not being vaccinated; if he missed each of the Canada-based games, under current rules he would not be paid for them, amounting to the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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- Teams will be permitted to suspend unvaccinated players who are “unable to participate in club activities,” whether due to a positive test for COVID-19 or due to an inability to travel because of government restrictions
- Unvaccinated players lose one day’s pay for each day they miss, though the league will make exceptions for players who do not take a vaccine due to religious or medical reasons
Signed to a two-year, US$9.5-million contract during the off-season, Bertuzzi was limited to only nine games with the Red Wings in the 2020-21 season due to injury. He finished the season with five goals and seven points, but is considered one of the most physical players on the team.
“Tyler will follow the protocols for non-vaccinated players,” said Yzerman. “Most significant is – as of now, and for the foreseeable future – entering Canada. That will be an issue when we are playing Canadian teams. As of now, under the Canadian laws, he won’t be able to cross the border so he wouldn’t be able to play in any games in Canada.”
Bertuzzi is expected to attend camp before the official season starts up. The Red Wings’ season starts up on Oct. 23 in Montreal against the Canadiens, and if he remains unvaccinated, the team will be playing without him.
As of this writing, the NHL and NHL Players Association do not have a vaccine mandate in place for its players.