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Getting vaccinated wasn't something Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith wanted to do.
The 16-year NHL veteran recently discussed his feelings on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for the upcoming season, making it very clear he did not want to get the jab.
“I look at it like, I’ve put so much time in over the years in trying to feel good on and off the ice. Prepare and be professional,” he said via Sportsnet's Mark Spector. “A lot of that is building up your immune system. So for me the frustrating part is that I have done so much to try and keep my immune system strong, healthy and firing on all cylinders.
“To have to take the vaccine to play hockey was frustrating.”
The NHL has put strict protocols in place for players who are unvaccinated, which include not being able to travel anywhere other than the team hotel, practice facility and arena when on the road.
“You have to make a medical decision just to play hockey,” Keith added. “I feel like that decision, it should be a choice.”
Keith was acquired by Edmonton from the Chicago Blackhawks this offseason along with Tim Soderlund in exchange for defensive prospect Caleb Jones and a conditional 2022 draft pick.
The Columbus Blue Jackets recently decided to prevent forward Zac Rinaldo from playing for the organization over his choice to not be vaccinated. Whether the same would be done for a player like Keith, who was highly sought after by the Oilers this offseason, is an interesting hypothetical.
Keith did, however, receive the vaccine and is ready to move on.
“I don’t want to make it about this vaccine,” Keith said. “I’m here and I’m ready to play.”
Edmonton's season begins on Oct. 13 with a home date against the Vancouver Canucks.
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