The Detroit Red Wings expect to be shorthanded when they travel to Montreal to battle the Canadiens on October 23. GM Steve Yzerman explained that Tyler Bertuzzi, the Red Wings’ third-highest paid forward, has declined the COVID-19 vaccine and the team anticipates that he will not travel with the club to Canada this season.
Tyler will follow the protocols for non-vaccinated players. Most significant, and not really a part of the protocol, is that as of now and for the forseeable future, you can’t enter Canada unless you are vaccinated. So that obviously will be an issue when we go to play Canadian teams.
As of now, under the Canadian laws, he won’t be able to cross the border so he wouldn’t be able to play in any games in Canada.
Because unvaccinated players are not expected to be paid for games/days missed due to COVID-related absences, including those caused by government restrictions and quarantines, Bertuzzi would be forfeiting $191K just for the nine gamedays the Red Wings have scheduled against Canadian teams. With travel days added (along with days in between games on their Western Canada trip from March 12-17) he could be forfeiting quite a bit more.
That said, the Red Wings didn’t actually confirm that Bertuzzi will be suspended during those trips, meaning there is still a chance he could receive his full salary. The benefit of a short suspension, other than saving money for the organization, is that teams will receive corresponding cap relief for those days away from the roster. The Red Wings, who currently sit $15MM under the salary cap ceiling, wouldn’t benefit much from that added space.
Even though deputy commissioner Bill Daly projected just 10-15 players would be unvaccinated when the season begins, that will still pose an issue for some teams as they resume traveling around North America. Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland admitted today that one of his team’s players has also declined the vaccination, though he did not identify the player. While Bertuzzi may only miss eight games, Holland explained that his player could miss up to 30 given the quarantine that would be required for cross-border travel.