The Chicago Blackhawks have become the latest North American sports entity to offer a reminder that vaccinations do not provide clubs will full immunity against COVID-19 issues.
Chicago announced Friday that forward Mike Hardman and goaltender Kevin Lankinen are currently not practicing because of the NHL's COVID-19 protocols. As the club added in its statement, this doesn't necessarily mean either individual has tested positive for the coronavirus. A player can be placed in the protocol because of an inconclusive test result, if he's awaiting confirmation of a positive test or if he's experiencing symptoms typical of COVID-19 infections.
Hardman, 22, tallied one goal and two assists in eight games after he made his NHL debut for Chicago last season. Lankinen, meanwhile, went 17-14-5 with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 2020-21 and, as noted by the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), is in line to serve as a backup behind Marc-Andre Fleury.
Per Stephanie Stremplewski of NBC Chicago, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman announced Thursday every Chicago player is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
"Certainly it shows the commitment of the players but also just from a more practical standpoint," Bowman said. "It's pretty challenging if you have players that aren't vaccinated as far as day-to-day activities."
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said last week 98% of players league-wide should be fully vaccinated by the start of regular-season play next month.