NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks on new season and league vaccination rates
With the beginning of the NHL season kicking off tonight for the first time under a new network, league commissioner Gary Bettman made an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up to share his thoughts on the new season and the leagues high vaccination rate.
The NHL, like other pro sports leagues, has had to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, especially since they have a large presence in Canada which closed its borders.
“COVID is a fact of life for everybody, not just for NHL or all sports but we are all living with it,” Bettman said. “The good news is we have had very effective protocols to finish the 19-20 season, to have last season, where we had to realign because we couldn’t cross the Canadian border and for us, health and safety has always been our number one priority.”
Bettman continued, relaying how the health and well-being is of the most importance to the league, saying only four players have yet to be vaccinated out of a roughly 800-person league.
“We have four players, not four percent, four players that haven’t been vaccinated out of our roughly 800. All of our officials’ and all of our personal who come in contact with our players have been vaccinate, but having said that, we still have protocols, there’s still contact tracing and we have to be careful because we want our players to be safe, we want our other personal to be safe, and we want the communities we play in to be safe.
Some of the highlights from the start of the new NHL season include a new broadcast partner -- ESPN -- after the league chose to end their decade-long relationship with NBC, as well as the newest franchise in sports making their debut, the Seattle Kraken, who will take part in a double header Tuesday on ESPN, which will begin with the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Kraken traveling to Las Vegas to meet the Golden Knights in the nightcap.