The commissioner of the National Hockey League (NHL) said Tuesday that only four players have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, a spokesperson for the league confirmed to The Hill.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman boasted the impressive vaccination rate before the first game of the league’s regular season started on Tuesday between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. Bettman also said that all of its staff that came into contact with their players were vaccinated as well as all of the league’s officials, according to NHL.com.
A NHL spokesperson confirmed that reporting to The Hill.
“Our vaccination rate is incredible,” Bettman said, according to NHL.com. “Four players, not four percent of players.”
“Throughout all of this, we had great collaboration and cooperation with the players and Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “This doesn’t happen to get to this point without that collaboration and cooperation. Yes, the players have stepped up to get vaccinated, but even thinking about how the players had to function the last two years, to go into the bubble.”
Bettman said that the ability for NHL players to achieve such a high vaccination rate and adhere to stringent COVID-19 protocol was emblematic of the league’s ability to work together.
“I spent three weeks there, I get it, but there were some who had to spend eight weeks there,” Bettman said speaking of a COVID-19 bubble that restricted where players could travel to, according to NHL.com. “Having to adhere to the protocols last season so we could administer 330,000 tests to keep everybody healthy. The fact that we were in the bubble and I think we did 35,000 tests and didn’t have one positive. Everybody banded together to do the right thing. Maybe that’s why hockey is the ultimate team sport.”
In contrast, the NBA had a vaccination rate of approximately 95 percent, league wide as of Sep. 30. According to NHL.com, as of Sept. 23, roughly 94 percent of the league’s players had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine and almost all of its personnel had inoculated.
Still, some prominent players from different sports teams, including Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, have highlighted the tiny fraction of athletes that have continued to resist vaccine mandates.