Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi made headlines across the sports world when it was revealed that he was the lone player on the roster who had not received the COVID-19 vaccination, and that it was his choice not to do so.
However, his decision will not only cost him money, but will also cost him the chance to play in Canadian cities owing to health and safety mandates.
Head coach Jeff Blashill addressed the situation in an interview with Bally Sports Detroit host John Keating, in which the former said that he respects Bertuzzi's choice.
"I love Tyler, I think he's a great young man," Blashill began his statement with. "He's one of my favorite guys I've coached, and I"m a big believer in Tyler for sure. I'm also a big believer in the vaccine, and I would love if everyone was vaccinated.
"The NHL didn't mandate that everyone was vaccinated, they gave guys a choice. I respect Tylers choice - it doesn't affect right now, there will be times when it does, and we move on."
Of course, a decision like Bertuzzi's that will automatically cause his team to be shorthanded during games in Canadian cities could certainly have a negative affect on morale in the dressing room. Does Blashill get the sense that anything like that has taken place?
"No, it doesn't affect our dressing room," Blashill stated emphatically. "Tyler's too good a person and part of our room, our guys won't let it affect anything."
The NHL has planned on having full capacity arenas this fall, and Blashill is understandably excited about the prospect of once again playing in front of a full house at Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit.
"We're working back towards normal," Blashill explained. "Being able to have fans in the stands is what sports is about. I understand why we couldn't, but we're excited about playing in front of stadiums that are packed."
The Red Wings will begin their exhibition season on Wednesday, September 29 with a matchup against their former Western Conference rival Chicago Blackhawks.