It's unclear yet whether the Vancouver Canucks will require proof of vaccination for fans to attend games in the coming 2021-22 season but some people definitely won't be able to get into Rogers Arena without being fully vaccinated.
According to a memo sent to NHL teams, staff who will interact with players will need to be vaccinated, with a liberal interpretation of the word "interact."
"Any person whose job, role, position or access entails or entitles them to have personal interactions (within 12 feet) with Club Hockey Operations personnel (including Players) are required to be Fully Vaccinated," reads the memo, acquired by Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
The memo affects any staff that interact with players, as well as Hockey Operations personnel — management like Jim Benning and John Weisbrod, coaching staff like Travis Green and Ian Clark, medical staff, trainers, athletic therapists, scouts, and many others. This is a wide-ranging memo, as most people working for an NHL team would have some sort of interaction with someone in hockey operations, especially with the low bar for "personal interaction" of 12 feet.
These types of strong protocols should be welcomed by the Canucks, who were let down by the NHL's COVID protocol last season, which clearly wasn't enough to protect the team from a serious outbreak.
Presumably, hockey operations staff themselves, such as management and coaches, will also be required to be fully vaccinated. After all, they have personal interactions with other members of hockey operations. What this doesn't include, however, is the players themselves.
Because the players are represented by a union, any COVID-related protocols or requirements need to be negotiated with the NHLPA. According to Friedman, those protocols have yet to be finalized.
The players certainly are in a role that "entails or entitles them to have personal interactions" with hockey operations personnel. The Canucks, of course, had an outbreak within their team, with the virus likely transmitting from player-to-player during practice, but there was also evidence of COVID-19 transmission from team-to-team within games.
It would be prudent for the NHL to require players to be fully vaccinated but there may be pushback from some players. For instance, when the St. Louis Blues had positive COVID-19 tests in May, reports came out that the entire team had been offered the vaccine but eight players had declined.
Other professional leagues in North America are not requiring vaccination for their players. The NFL, NBA, and MLB do not require vaccinations but have instead attempted to incentivize getting vaccinated.
The NBA and MLB have gone with the carrot approach, offering reduced restrictions on masking and social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated. The NFL, however, has gone with the stick, threatening forfeited games and lost salary for players and teams who are discovered to be the source of a COVID-19 outbreak.
It remains to be seen what approach the NHL and NHLPA will take.