2021-09-24 05:34:25 GMT + 00: 00 – According to an internal document shared with NHL teams earlier this week, the league expects 30 of its 32 teams to be full in the 2021/22 season will be occupied, several outlets reported on Thursday.
The two teams that are not expected to sell out in the coming season are the Vancouver Canucks and the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canucks could see an estimated 50 percent of the home seats occupied at Rogers Arena, which typically holds 18,910 fans. The Canadiens plan to open at 33 percent of the club’s 21,302 capacity in the Bell Center.
In addition to mass predictions, the league’s memo reportedly described the expected vaccine guidelines for all franchises.
Ten teams plan to require only one proof of vaccination from fans: the Buffalo Sabers, Calgary Flames, Canadiens, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Kraken, Toronto Maple Leafs, Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.
Fans visiting eight other teams’ home arenas can play games with either a proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues.
According to this week’s guidelines, 14 other teams won’t ask fans for copies of vaccinations or negative COVID tests – although some or all of those teams could change their plans before the season starts. These teams are the Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, and Washington Capitals .
Additionally, 11 of the NHL’s 32 franchises will not require fans to wear masks upon entry – with the Ducks only requiring unvaccinated fans to wear masks.
The intention to clear the full crowd for five of the seven Canadian teams has been criticized by some in the medical community. An Edmonton infectious disease expert not only believes a vaccination card was legitimate enough to let fans in, but also believes that moving into a large crowd was a recipe for serious trouble.
“On the one hand, our health system is in a complete crisis and threatens to crumble,” said Dr. Noel Gibney told Global News in Alberta. “But at the same time life pretends to go on normally.”
Another doctor, Edmonton Emergency Doctor Shazma Mithani, described crowded arenas as a “terrible idea”.
“One look at the state of our health system – should we really have thousands upon thousands of people in an indoor stadium screaming and drinking beer when our health system is on the verge of collapse?” Mithani told Global News.
“What if we ask the federal government, the Canadian military, or other provinces for help to help our crumbling healthcare system because COVID has gotten so bad?”
As for the players, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told multiple media outlets last week that the league is forecasting 98 percent of its players will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the opening night of the 2021/22 season on October 12.
Unlike players, NHL coaches must be given a vaccine.
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