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With the NHL and NHLPA opting not to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, players around the league are voicing their frustrations towards the league’s decision.
Bruins forward Brad Marchand has been the most outspoken of the bunch and sounded off once again Tuesday on Twitter.
“The NHL and NHLPA can change the rules of the CBA to add a taxi squad so that they don’t miss any games and don’t lose any money — which has already been agreed upon that the players will pay back in escrow until the owners are made whole from what they have lost during this pandemic, regardless of how many games are missed,” Marchand wrote. “Yet they can’t do a taxi squad during the Olympics so they can honor the agreement they made so the NHL players can go [to Beijing].
“Please tell me that’s not bulls—. And for all of you who want to pipe back about forfeiting pay while being gone, yah not a problem. Let the players make their choice.”
After not participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the NHL and the NHLPA agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that would allow players to participate in the both the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics. Per ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, participation in 2022 hinged on the 2021-22 season not being “materially impacted” by COVID-19.
Amid the new Omicron variant that took off in December, the NHL’s worst fears became a reality. As of Tuesday, the NHL has postponed 70 games this season. The league has been on pause for a week and resumes Tuesday night.
The NHL’s rigorous testing protocols have contributed to the spike of positive tests, despite the league’s near 100% vaccination rate. On Dec. 18, the NHL implemented new protocols through at least Jan. 7. All players are now tested daily with masks required inside team facilities. All meetings are virtual and interactions outside home, the facility and hotels are limited.
The NFL, meanwhile, has made the switch to only testing players who experience symptoms. As OutKick’s Bobby Burack relayed Tuesday, the league has now dropped the quarantine period for those who test positive from 10 days to five, per the CDC’s new recommendation.
The NHL’s protocols have drawn the ire of Marchand, who called for change on Sunday.
“We definitely have to get to that,” Marchand said, via Wyshynski. “The NBA is there. The NFL is going there now. We’re going to be next. We have to get there soon. If guys are fine, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to play.
“It’s tough. This whole thing’s tough. There’s a valid argument on both sides. This could be the new norm, with the variant coming around every year. It’s something we’re going to have to live with. We can’t be doing this year in, year out. At some point, we have to get back to some normalcy. Guys have done what they’re supposed to do and got vaccinated and all that stuff.”
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