Duncan Keith will miss the first week of Oilers camp until he is fully vaccinated. General manager Ken Holland said the 38-year-old defenseman, who was acquired from the Blackhawks in July, will be available October 1.
According to the new NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, unvaccinated players will face stiffer penalties, like suspension and loss of pay, should they test positive and miss games. There is also a 14-day quarantine for those players after they cross the border. Players were strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.
Last week, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daily said that the league expects 98% of players to be fully vaccinated by the start of the season.
“I think as we’ve gone through the world, making that decision for some people it’s easy, and for some people it’s difficult,” Holland said when asked why Keith took this long to get vaccinated. “To get vaccinated has obviously been a personal decision. It’s been an easy decision for some and it’s been a difficult decision for some. It was difficult decision for Duncan. Ultimately, he weighed all the information. … I spent lots of time with him last week. I know that he talked to lots of people. I know he talked to his teammates and eventually made the decision to get vaccinated.”
Stalock unlikely to play
Alex Stalock is likely to miss the 2021-22 NHL season with the Oilers due to a heart condition.
“He had COVID before the 56-game season and then he was cleared and was with us all year on the taxi squad,” Holland said. “At the end of the year, we did a physical and then he went home and did additional tests. He discovered he may have a heart condition. … I don’t anticipate that he’ll play hockey this year.”
The 34-year-old goaltender was diagnosed with myocarditis after testing positive for COVID-19 last November. He told The Athletic’s Michael Russo in March that the experience last fall was stressful for his family.
“It was mentally draining and very frustrating,” said Stalock, who was claimed on waivers by the Oilers from the Wild in March. “Every doctor you talk to, they’re like, ‘This is so new, we don’t know what can happen.’ And you’re like, ‘Well, that doesn’t help.'”
According to Holland, Stalock is seeking additional medical opinions.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.