TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league will only have four unvaccinated players when it opens the 2021-22 season.
Bettman was present at the start of the regular season between Stanley Cup winners Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.
“Everyone is banding together to do the right thing,” said Bettman. “Maybe that’s why hockey is the ultimate team sport.”
Bettman said NHL officials and any staff who come into contact with the players have been vaccinated.
“We take this seriously,” said Bettman. “Health and safety have been and will remain of paramount importance.”
There are still COVID-19 cases with fully vaccinated players.
The Seattle Kraken expansion will be missing a number of players due to Covid-19 protocols for its first game on Tuesday night in Las Vegas.
The Lightning have shown continued interest in hosting an outdoor game in Tampa, Florida, but weather conditions in the state remain a major obstacle.
“If I have concerns about storms, the answer is yes,” said Bettman. “Weather, especially in warm climates, can be challenging and player safety is paramount. If it were doable it would be great. We are just not sure whether it is feasible because of the weather. “
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