(Ottawa) The Canadiens’ rookies played their first game on Saturday, but the team was deprived of its only player to have tasted the NHL, forward Jesse Ylönen. We now know the reason for his absence.
Ylönen is not vaccinated against COVID-19, confirmed to Press a spokesperson for the Canadian.
Since he is not vaccinated, the Finn had to undergo a quarantine on his arrival in the country, which he completed. But the team felt he hadn’t skated enough since his inactivity to be sent into the fray. Ylönen however trained with the reservists on Saturday morning, said Laval Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle in a press briefing after the match.
The next step is uncertain. Barring a huge surprise or many injuries, Ylönen would have started the season in the American League, but would have been among the candidates for a recall. Last season, he was recalled for the last game of the season, before the start of the playoffs.
However, in the American League, “the protocols are not finalized,” said a spokesperson for the circuit in an email.
For its part, the NHL allows unvaccinated players to play, but the consequences for these players, if they are “unable to participate in the activities of their team”, are severe.
Unvaccinated NHL players may in fact be suspended without pay if border restrictions prevent them from traveling, or if they contract COVID-19 and it is established that this is linked to a non-compliance with the regulations. protocols.
This information is found in the protocol established between the NHL and the Players’ Association, which our colleague Elliotte Friedman obtained.
However, there are exemptions for players not vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. In the Canadian, it is indicated that Ylönen is not vaccinated “for reasons which belong to him”. At the time of this writing, we had not received a response from his agent to our email requesting clarification.
In Quebec, the vaccination passport is required for the practice of ice hockey, but is not required “in the context of professional or high-level sports practiced according to protocols approved by the Minister of Health and Social Services”, we read on the government’s website.
However, due to the mandatory quarantine, from which only adequately vaccinated travelers are exempt, Ylönen’s participation in matches in the United States could be problematic. The Rocket will play 22 of its 72 games this season on American soil. Ylönen could therefore miss 30% of Laval’s games, if the federal quarantine does indeed apply to professional hockey players.
For its part, the Habs will play 33 of their 82 games in the United States, or 40% of matches.
Obviously, the situation can change quickly, for example if the player decides to be vaccinated. The Rocket will play their first games in the United States in five weeks, October 23-24, in Providence and Bridgeport. For its part, the Habs will cross the border in their second game of the season, on October 14 in Buffalo.
Last week, NHL Assistant Commissioner Bill Daly said he expected 10 or 15 players on the Tour will not be adequately vaccinated when the season kicks off on October 12.
In interview with Press this week, the head coach of the Canadian, Dominique Ducharme, had mentioned “two cases [de joueurs non vaccinés] with young people last year. There is one for whom it was more of a medical case. They had to find the right way to do it. It will not be an issue ”.
Jesse Ylönen was drafted in the second round (35e overall) by the Canadiens in 2018. He made his debut in the American League last season, amassing 17 points (9 goals, 8 assists) in 29 games.