Over the last week or so, the Boston Bruins players, coaching staff, management, and traveling party have begun their COVID vaccination process. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has been updating the media on the progress the team has made towards reaching full vaccination and why despite some players feeling side effects, like fatigue, he and the team are determined to get vaccinated not just for their sake but ‘for society’s sake’ too.
“Some of it was. Some guys had less adverse effects than others but a few guys were fatigued a little bit,” Cassidy acknowledged Friday when asked if post-vaccination shot fatigue played a role in his team’s slow start Thursday before they exploded for four unanswered goals to win 5-1 over the Buffalo Sabres.
“We knew that might happen so. …but we wanted to get the guys vaccinated as quickly as possible. Everyone who has to travel, at least initially, so we could at least reduce it in-house and not have to shut down. …for everyone’s family’s sake as well and for society’s sake, we want to try and get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible here. But again, if we can get it done internally and around us, it sure helps with some continuity for the season. So that’s the chance you take whenever you do it that you might have a reaction, but I think that’s behind us now. …I hope.”
Cassidy was asked how many Bruins players and staff have received at least their first shot?
“I think we’re around – and I’m guessing here – but closer to 75-80 percent,” Cassidy replied. “And some guys have had or are coming out of COVID so I don’t think they would qualify yet or would have to wait? Like Jaro [Halak] for example right? He just came out of it but I think he’s planning on getting it. Or a couple of guys that are not on the trip back home, I don’t know what their situation was if they would’ve gotten it because it’s more convenient. But I think we’re at 80 percent I want to say and that’s staff too and the traveling party.”
Halak, who has been out since April 3 and was on the NHL COVID Protocol list until last Saturday, is on the Bruins current five-game road trip that will conclude with two games against the Penguins Sunday and Tuesday. Of course, Halak wasn’t the only Boston Bruins player to test positive for COVID as the team had to postpone two games last month when five players ended up on the list. Now, hopefully, with not just Boston Bruins players but more and more NHLers getting vaccinated, the NHL will be able to loosen up on some of the COVID restrictions in place.
“I know the vaccinations now are opened up, so that may determine going forward a little bit more freedom for the guys,” Cassidy said earlier in the week. “But I’m just speculating that could happen. Right now, no, there’s not much you can do — go to the rink, get your work done, and on off-days kind of sit around your room.”
Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner assumed that would be the case earlier in the week and blasted the NHL for not lifting some restrictions after he claimed they promised they would when teams got vaccinated.
“They told me yesterday that they’re surveying all the teams to see who has taken the vaccine, and who has not taken the vaccines, and they’re not going to change the rules for us as players until all the players have the vaccine at the same time so it’s not a competitive edge,” Lehner said Wednesday. “That made me go crazy, to be honest. This is human lives and people are struggling with this stuff a lot in society, and we are humans as everyone else.”
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN that was simply not accurate.
“It’s been a matter that’s been raised and discussed as between us and the NHLPA, but no decision to modify has ever been made nor communicated to anyone,” Daly said.
Lehner later apologized for letting his frustrations get the best of him but pleaded with the league and the NHLPA to consider the toll the restrictions have had on the players’ mental health.
“As I’m frustrated like a lot of people in the world right now everything didn’t come out of today’s press in the right way,” Lehner stated on his Twitter account. “Main point is that we need to start take the mental health important as well in this situation. It has a huge impact on everyone in society right now.”