Just hours before Sportsnet Insider Elliotte Friedman broke the story on the NHL’s new COVID protocol, Boston Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton announced that he had contracted COVID on his honeymoon.
In an Instagram post just after 4 PM ET, Clifton posted an Insta-story breaking the news:
“When you get COVID on your honeymoon and your wife hates you for the very first time,” the Boston Bruins rearguard wrote.
It is not known if Clifton was vaccinated or not at the time he contracted the virus. If he wasn’t and this happened a month from now, two weeks before the October 16 2021-22 regular season opener for the Boston Bruins, Clifton would likely be suspended per the new COVID Protocol that the NHL and NHLPA have agreed upon.
“The biggest news is a mechanism for teams to suspend unvaccinated players who are “unable to participate in club activities.” This includes situations where a player cannot travel because of local, provincial/state and/or federal regulations “upon return.” Such individuals would “forfeit the equivalent of one day’s pay for each day” they are precluded from participating.
It’s a major development considering the Canada/U.S. border and different rules/approaches across the NHL’s North American landscape. General managers were warned about this possibility at their virtual meeting in July and began informing players about the possibility.
There are exceptions — unvaccinated status based upon medical reasons; a conflict with “sincerely held religious beliefs;” establishment “on the basis of a balance of the probabilities,” COVID-19 “ arisen out of the course of employment as a hockey player;” or quarantine because of being a high-risk close contact.
If a fully vaccinated player is confirmed with a positive COVID test, his condition “shall be treated as a hockey-related injury for all purposes” under the CBA.
Unvaccinated players who are not exempted for the above reasons will not be paid if his team establishes, “on the basis of a balance of the probabilities, that the player failed to comply with the terms of this protocol in a manner that was reasonably related to his contraction of COVID-19 and/or any resulting or related illness.”
The Boston Bruins had to place six different players on the NHL COVID list this past season with forwards Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly (now with the Columbus Blue Jackets), and goalie Jaroslav Halak (now with the Vancouver Canucks) all known to have tested positive.
The Boston Bruins are yet to announce a date for the start of training camp, but their first preseason game is on Sunday, September 26 against the Washington Capitals in Washington DC.