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NHL won't allow unvaccinated players into Canada, unlike NBA, MLB

A.J. Messier / National Hockey League / Getty

In contrast to a new NBA policy, the NHL will not allow unvaccinated players to enter Canada to play in games.

Sportsnet's Michael Grange initially shared the NBA's edict Monday and indicated the NHL would use the same exemption, which was already granted to MLB's Toronto Blue Jays.

However, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly then explained his league's stance for the upcoming season.

"At this point in time, we have made a decision not to seek a National Interest Exemption," Daly told The Canadian Press' Joshua Clipperton.

Grange later issued a correction to clarify that the NHL doesn't want the exemption as so few players in the league are unvaccinated.

Daly recently said he expects 98% of NHL players to be fully vaccinated by the start of 2021-22, which would leave 10-15 players across the league failing to meet the standard.

The NHL finalized its COVID-19 protocols in early September. They include a mechanism for suspending unvaccinated players with certain exceptions, including religious and medical reasons.

Several players, including Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi and Columbus Blue Jackets enforcer Zac Rinaldo, are not fully vaccinated. The Blue Jackets declined to invite Rinaldo to training camp as a result.

A pair of assistant coaches - Rocky Thompson with the San Jose Sharks and Sylvain Lefebvre with the Blue Jackets - were removed from their respective staffs for not adhering to the protocols.

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