5. “We are trying to help him through this.” — Tom Fitzgerald
Vaccination status was always going to be a topic on Wednesday. The Devils were one of the teams hit hardest by COVID-19 last season, and it really put their team into the basement of the standings after a promising start. Mackenzie Blackwood said it took him almost all season to get over the symptoms. Jack Hughes lost almost all the muscle mass he gained during the long offseason. It seemed to put a lot of the team’s positive progression on ice.
So, vaccination status is going to be very prevalent. When Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald revealed that there was one player in training camp who wasn’t vaccinated, it’s big news. This isn’t a personal decision. This is a hockey decision.
Fitzgerald said it would become very clear who was not vaccinated very quickly, and then he said this quote. “We are trying to help him get through this.” There could be a lot of reading between the lines that must be done here. Is he working with the player to try and get him to “do his own research”, a line we heard a lot in the NFL? Is he trying to dissolve some of the misinformation said player might be ingesting? Could it be a medical issue that’s forced this player to wait it out?
Vaccination status in a pandemic is relevant. It just is what it is until this pandemic is over. The prevailing fact, however, is that just about everyone is vaccinated, and that should help the team avoid the outbreak that derailed last season.