Winnipeg Jets kick off training camp with fully vaccinated team
The Winnipeg Jets kicked off training camp on Thursday, as the team announced they are all fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
On Thursday, the Jets took the ice for the first time since being swept out of the playoffs last season.
This comes as the team tweeted a quote from head coach Paul Maurice saying, “We are 100% vaccinated as a group and as a staff.”
Since the entire team is fully vaccinated, NHL COVID-19 vaccination protocols will not be keeping any players off the ice.
However, getting vaccinated wasn't an easy decision for all the players, including goalie Connor Hellebuyck who got his second shot shortly after a bout with COVID-19 late in the offseason.
"I'm not anti-vax by any means but I'd like to have that decision for myself,” Hellebuyck said.
“It felt very forced on me and just where I am with my health, I had just gotten COVID, gotten over it and then had to get the vax, which made it feel like I got COVID all over again. So if I could have at least had some time to choose maybe I would have gotten it when they recommended it, three months later, but it felt a little forced and I would have liked to have that choice."
SENSE OF EXCITEMENT AT TRAINING CAMP
Following an offseason that saw the Jets re-sign key players like Paul Stastny and Andrew Copp, while adding two veteran defenceman in Brendan Dillon and Nate Schmidt, there was a sense of excitement among players as Winnipeg kicked off training camp.
"It's been definitely a change, We haven't historically had offseasons like that and I think that gives some of the guys who've been here for awhile a little extra boost,” said Jets captain Blake Wheeler.
Returning to a typical central division this season, an improved roster comes with higher expectations from the outside.
However, Wheeler said games are not won on paper.
“It doesn't mean a thing. The best team on paper is not the team that wins,” he said.
“Tampa's got some talent, but they had talent when they were swept by Columbus too, right? So there is way more to it than that."
Unlike last season, the Jets will play six exhibition games throughout training camp before kicking off the regular season, which is one of a few things Maurice said he will not be taking for granted this season.
"I'll tell you this – I have a better appreciation for hockey, whether it's the National Hockey League and fans than I ever had before, and I’m really, really excited about this training camp, It's been fun,” he said.
The Jets pre-season kicks off Sunday at home against the Ottawa Senators.