Indeed, some of the norms from the pre-pandemic days returned as some of the COVID protocols loosened up. And while everyday activity hasn’t reverted to normal completely, the strict quarantine life at home has eased up significantly.
Because of this, the National Hockey League has loosened some of its restrictions for fully vaccinated players. Only a handful of players entered training camp without taking a single COVID shot.
The Boston Bruins don’t have to worry about any unvaccinated personnel in their ranks. Every player, coach and staff member returned to their day-to-day activities fully vaccinated and ready to go for training camp. There was no hesitation from anyone receiving the vaccine to protect themselves, their teammates and their loved ones.
“There were no meetings about it,” captain Patrice Bergeron said of the fully-vaccinated Bruins. “I think everyone was on board and kind of did it organically for their own beliefs and for themselves and their families.”
Instead of conducting limited business at their facilities and homes, the Bruins can now enjoy the perks of city life in Boston and a resumption of team-bonding activities during road trips.
Now the players get to enjoy camaraderie with one another. The coaching staff doesn’t have to remind anyone about receiving a life-saving vaccine. All this resulted in a smooth transition to daily business at the rink, and a return to some normalcy off the ice.
“Absolutely,” defenseman Brandon Carlo said on returning to pre-pandemic daily life in some fashion. “Last season, we tried to get back to normalcy, but we didn’t quite reach that goal. So this year is great for that.”
For Carlo, who missed the latter half of Boston’s second-round matchup against the Islanders because of a concussion, his health remains a top priority entering the new season. He takes that responsibility seriously as one of the newer designated leaders of the club.
Yet, after nearly two years of the strict protocols, Carlo and company will finally resume some of the bonding activities from the pre-pandemic days.
“I think there’s still an onus on us to be responsible in a lot of ways to make the right decisions. We can still get [COVID] if we’re vaccinated or we’re not. But I think my biggest goal even after last year is to stay in the lineup in every aspect, whether that be injury-wise, health-wise, anything in that regard,” Carlo added.
“Our team is vaccinated, so we’ll be able to do all of the regular things, which is great. But I think we’ll continue to do the right things and continue to put ourselves in the right areas. As long as we do that, we can continue to have fun and get back to normalcy.”
The league’s return to pre-pandemic business — beginning with a normal preseason period — provides a welcomed development for all 32 teams.
The Bruins will use their preseason incorporating the five notable free-agent signings — Nick Foligno, Linus Ulmark, Erik Haula, Derek Forbort and Tomas Nosek — into their tight-knit group. They hope everything falls into place with their lineup intact following a six-game preseason slate beginning Sunday against the Rangers in New York.
But Cassidy and his coaching staff won’t have to rush their decision-making process during their competitive preseason slate. They have time on their side with three weeks of preseason activity before hosting the Dallas Stars in their season opener on Oct. 16 at TD Garden.
“This [training camp] is a little more normal,” Cassidy admitted. “We have a pretty good idea of what the lineup is going to look like; it’s just where do the pieces go type of thing. It would be a great problem to have if a younger player pushes a veteran guy out or an older guy. Those are always good things to have competition from inward sources and not necessarily having to look outside to get it. Now we had to do a little bit of that this summer [signing free agents] for obvious reasons — we had to replace some players. So six [preseason] games sometimes is plenty. Sometimes you’re ready to go after four, and sometimes you need eight…but we’ll use these six games to evaluate the best we can.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.