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Jets star goaltender Connor Hellebuyck had some things to say about the NHL's handling of recent COVID-related events.
With the league postponing a boatload of games before eventually deciding to shut down for an extended holiday break, combined with the news that NHL players won't be participating at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Hellebuyck had one word on his mind to describe everything going on around him: Overkill.
#NHLJets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, speaking just now, isn't happy that NHL players aren't going to #Beijing2022, or by the number of postponed games due to so many players in COVID-19 protocols. Calls the extended holiday pause "overkill."
— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) December 21, 2021
The netminder is not new to being this vocal on the topic, either.
On Saturday, Hellebuyck spoke at length about his feelings on the NHL’s decision to revert back to more strict protocols for players and staff amid a league-wide COVID-19 surge. The 28-year-old focused on players having individual choice.
“I think it’s doing a lot more harm than good,” he said. “Everyone I’ve talked to, they’re in agreeance with that. We need to be informed and then we need to be able to make our own decisions.
“That’s how I feel about that. We all chose to be there, we all got vaccinated, we made the sacrifice to show the people we care about (the fans). That’s why we do what we do, for the fans. We care about giving them something to cheer for, something to watch. I don’t want to go too much further into this because it’s too personal, but I think it just needs to be people’s decisions.”
The NHL has postponed nearly 50 games so far and has 126 players and counting on its COVID protocol list as of Tuesday morning.
Hellebuyck was likely to be Team USA’s starting goaltender through the best-on-best tournament this February in Beijing in what would have been his first Olympics.
He does, for what it's worth, seem to be thinking about the impact this prolonged pause — and general public shutdowns — can have on people's mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
“I think our fans need to be able to come to the games and need a team to cheer around to bring the community back together and bring peoples’ spirits up,” he said on Saturday.
“It’s something I look forward to because all of these shutdowns, and I know me, personally, all of these shutdowns are just hard on families, mentally and not being able to live your life the way you want to live, it’s tough on people. When this league is starting to go back to those ways, I just don’t see if they’re really thinking about how it is affecting people.”
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