Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi is making a “personal choice” by not getting the COVID-19 vaccine for the 2021-22 NHL season, which began last night. He is also making a selfish choice that goes against the grain of team sports.
The Red Wings must pay for his personal choice. And so must Bertuzzi.
Whatever happened to taking one for the team? Bertuzzi seems not to care about teammates who he calls brothers. He doesn’t seem to care about the nine games to he and his teammates have to play in Canada that he could miss or possible games in San Jose or other places with Covid-19 vaccination mandates.
New York Nets guard Kyrie Irving is doing the same. He might be doing his teammates a bigger disservice because the Nets are NBA title contenders. The Nets have essentially said you are either all in or all out and have suspended the star guard for the season.
Bertuzzi is likely to be face a suspension and fine of $400,000 for missing games in Canada. He could lose more if he catches the virus. The NHL said unvaccinated players who miss team activities because they catch Covid could lose a day’s pay.
The Red Wings say they support his decision.
“Tyler is very popular in our (locker) room, a very big part of our locker room, and we’re going to miss him on the ice and locker room when he isn’t able to play,” center Dylan Larkin said. “But he has our support.”
Larkin said the Wings would treat his absence as if it were an injury. Here is the difference. Injuries usually happen when you are trying to help the team win. They are often unpreventable. Bertuzzi can prevent missing the Canadian games but chooses not to.
He could be in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, or Vancouver but chooses not to.
“We’re going to miss him when he’s not there,” Larkin said. “Like an injury or anything you have to find ways (as a team). You can’t think about it too much. You have to move on and be ready to play.
“We deal with it a lot in our business, and we’ll treat it the same way.”
According to NHL guidelines, unvaccinated players can only go to the team hotel, practice facility, or arena on road trips. They are encourage players not to eat in restaurants, go to bars, or have teammates or people outside their inside circle come to their hotel rooms.
They also cannot carpool with teammates. In other words, Bertuzzi not only will miss games, but he will also miss much of the team bonding activities that help build a team.
He will officially become the team leaper.
Yep, it is a personal choice. But it is a selfish one as well.
Follow Foster on Twitter at TerryFosterDet.