The NHL regular season does not begin for another six weeks or so, but we had some pretty big news in the NHL on Thursday afternoon and it raised some eyebrows across the league and with fans.

Elliotte Friedman of SportsNet is reporting that the NHL sent out its protocols for COVID-19 on Thursday and the protocols were agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA.

The biggest takeaway is the ability to suspend players who are unvaccinated and cannot "participate in team activities."

It's important to note that this also includes instances where a player can't travel because of a state or province's restrictions and regulations put in place for COVID-19 protocols.

A player would forfeit the equivalent of one day's pay for each day they miss.

Players who are vaccinated that contract COVID-19 will be considered to be on the injury report and will not have to face any suspensions and fines.

Players can opt out of the season by October 1st. Those who wish to opt out cannot play in another league or Olympics and the team the player is signed with can decide whether to roll over the 2021-2022 season to 2022-2023, or remove the season from the contractual agreement.

Those players who are vaccinated can be tested once every 72 hours and team staff who works close contact with club personnel or players must be vaccinated.

The NHL is highly incentivizing being vaccinated to its players, and the rules and restrictions for unvaccinated players when traveling this season are more reasons for players to be vaccinated, such as not bein allowed to go anywhere other than the team hotels, practice facility and game arena -- along with numerous other restrictions for unvaccinated players traveling during the 2021-2022 season.

That means that Buffalo Sabres players who decide not to be vaccinated are risking being suspended for missing games and team activities because of testing positive or not being allowed to travel because of government regulations.

Basically, if they're not vaccinated they run a high risk of being suspended by the team ad not paid and that fighting that decision won't happen because the NHL and NHLPA agreed to these rules.

We will see if this impacts games during the season for the Sabres and NHL.

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