While both MLB and the NBA are encouraging players to get vaccinated by dramatically reducing COVID-19 protocol restrictions for individuals and then for entire teams once an 85-percent threshold is met, the NHL and NHLPA have not had discussions about a similar endeavor, Slap Shots has learned.
A well-placed source reports that hockey players appear more amenable to getting vaccinated than their counterparts in baseball and basketball. Hence, the league and union believe that a similar program is not necessary.
At the same time, we’re told that there are no pending protocol revisions. And this is probably not the time to become more liberal with regulations now that an ongoing outbreak is occurring with the Canucks, who as of Friday had seven players on the COVID-19 protocol list, one more than the aggregate among the rest of the league.
As vaccines become available to the general population, at least across the United States, clubs will have to plot strategies. There is some evidence that younger persons bear a greater risk of developing side effects after receiving the vaccine, so clubs might want to stagger the scheduling of their players to get jabbed.
Presumably, those who are unable to play after developing side effects would be eligible for nonroster status. Of course, roster limits cease to exist after the deadline, so that would not become a critical issue.
In advance of the April 12 deadline, there will be articles about the best deadline trades in NHL history, and thousands of words will be wasted by those trying to pretend the 1980 deal in which the Islanders and general manager Bill Torrey acquired Butch Goring from the Kings in exchange for Billy Harris and Dave Lewis does not stand alone.
You know that for a while last year, until the COVID-induced pause put the NHL on hold for nearly five months, Jean-Gabriel Pageau was threatening to become the Bizarro Goring.
When Goring joined an Islanders team that had gone 4-8-1 in the previous 13 games, the Islanders thereafter went 8-0-4 to close out the regular season before, you know, winning 19 consecutive playoff rounds.
But when Pageau joined the team 40 years later, the Islanders lost seven straight (0-3-4) the rest of the abbreviated way with him in the lineup.
Of course, when Pageau and his team went under the bubble in Toronto, everything changed.
Repeat after me: Every NHL “winless” streak is a losing streak.
So through Friday, 14 teams had won at least half of their games, while 22 were able to promote themselves as playing .500 hockey. Participation trophies for all!
Dallas: .500. The Stars had won 12 of their 34 games while losing 22, 12 in regulation.
Montreal: What appears to be a gaudy 16-8-9 actually represents the fact that the Canadiens had lost one more game than they had won.
So Nashville may no longer be in selling mode after squeaking into a playoff spot off a 6-1 run, achieved primarily against division doormats Detroit and Dallas. Is that the sample size off of which management should be reevaluating its position?
The Predators’ Eeli Tolvanen seems to represent a profile in patience, though. The 21-year-old winger, selected 30th overall in the 2017 draft and ruled an untouchable after the Finn’s stunning performance in the 2018 Olympics, played a total of seven NHL games his first three pro seasons while down for 121 with AHL Milwaukee. But he’s busting through this season with 18 points (9-9) in 29 games.
Raise your hand if you had Oliver Wahlstrom, nine goals in 30 games with the Islanders, finishing ahead of Alexis Lafreniere in Calder voting.
And though the award seems rather firmly in the grasp of the Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov, do not go to sleep on Igor Shesterkin if he leads a Rangers charge to the playoffs.
You’re telling me that Tony DeAngelo wouldn’t be a fit or worthwhile risk for Florida?
Again, I ask somewhat incredulously: The same people who passed three times on Mathew Barzal in the 2015 draft are still making the decisions for the Bruins?
The Crash Line won the Cup for and with the 1994-95 Devils, but I wonder which fourth line Lou Lamoriello would choose as the most formidable one he’s had in his career?
That one in New Jersey with Bobby Holik between Mike Peluso and Randy McKay, or the one on Long Island with Casey Cizikas between Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck that has set the NHL standard for years?
The Wall Street Journal did a piece last week about headhunters, and it took me a few paragraphs to realize it was not about Tom Wilson.
The same way that NBC could not resist attempting to turn Brad Marchand into some sort of lovable urchin a few years ago at the All-Star Game, the network just had to attempt to sanitize Mr. Wilson last week throughout the Rangers-Capitals national telecast.
And you know, just because Wilson went a fair stretch without being suspended does not mean he did not commit multiple suspendable offenses in the interim.
But yes, it is just as certainly true that every team would, indeed, sign up in a heartbeat to acquire the winger. Every single one.
This just in: In response to the voter suppression effort signed into law in Georgia, the NHL has announced that neither the Flames nor the Jets (née Thrashers) will return to Atlanta.