Mackenzie Blackwood received his first COVID-19 vaccine

Mackenzie Blackwood has started the COVID-19 vaccination process.

The New Jersey Devils confirmed Monday that Blackwood received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine late last week. This would put him in line to be fully vaccinated two weeks after his first injection.

Blackwood is currently in the injured reserve with a heel injury and has yet to make an appearance in 2021-22 for the Devils. New Jersey used Jonathan Bernier, Scott Wedgewood and rookie Nico Daws at net and the line combined for a .907 save percentage in four games.

The plan for the Devils was to ride with a goaltending tandem from Bernier, who they signed on to a two-year contract in the offseason, and Blackwood, who started 35 games for the team in 2021. But if Blackwood was not vaccinated, they would not be able to join the team on their road trips to Canada.

New Jersey’s first trip across the border will be in early December when they travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets. The Devils are expected to play a total of eight games in Canada this season.

Once Blackwood receives his second dose in a few weeks, Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings will be the only player left in the NHL who will not be vaccinated. Bertuzzi said he would rather stay out of games than be vaccinated. He was suspended without pay for the Red Wings’ 6-1 loss to Montreal on Saturday.

As Frank Seravalli reported last week, the NHL and the Players’ Association will be examining the possibility of changing the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Several vaccinated players, such as Nathan MacKinnon and Mark Schiefele, have missed games due to testing positive despite having no symptoms.

Given the league’s high vaccination rate, the NHL may choose not to test asymptomatic players. The NHL currently tests all players three times per week, while the NBA does not test vaccinated players except in rare circumstances.

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