KIJHL delivering vaccine-related message . . . Seattle-area teams go to mandatory vaccination policies; Thunderbirds follow suit

A tip of the Keeping Score fedora to the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for this campaign . . .

We have news from the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, and let’s hope it isn’t a harbinger of things to come. . . . The Lake Cowichan Kraken, a new VIJHL team, and the host Westshore Wolves were to have opened the regular season tonight (Wednesday), but that won’t happen. . . . The game has been postponed “due to a COVID exposure,” according to the league, and “will be rescheduled and played later in the season.”

B.C. residents were able to start downloading proof of vaccination on Tuesday, with these co-called “passports” needed to access various non-essential businesses beginning on Sept. 13 and running through at least Jan. 31. . . . When scanned, these passports will show whether the holder is fully or partially vaccinated, or that no records were found. . . . Fans attending home games of any of the WHL’s five B.C. clubs will have to present proof of vaccination. . . . At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, suggested that people who aren’t vaccinated would be able to watch the Vancouver Canucks game on TV and contribute to local economies by ordering takeout. Presumably, the same will hold true for WHL fans in B.C. cities.

The NHL’s Seattle Kraken announced on Tuesday that it “will require all guests, Krakenages 12+, attending games, concerts and events at Climate Pledge Arena to provide proof of vaccination to keep fans, staff, players and artists safe.” . . . Ian Furness of Seattle radio station KJR followed that with a tweet: “My understanding is that every other major team/school will be making the same announcement for proof of vaccinations . . .” There were the usual comments — mostly in favour, but some others, too. Nothing beat this exchange in the comments after Furness’s tweet. . . . Someone with the handle Former Seattleite wrote: “F— em. That will be the end of 4 generations of season tickets at” U of Washington football. . . . UWDawgsPod followed with: “0-12 didn’t stop him, but getting a vaccine, that’s his line in the sand.”


The Kraken is to play NHL exhibition games in three WHL arenas — in Everett, Kent, Wash., and Spokane. Proof of vaccination will be required to attend any of those games. . . . Following a tweet on that subject, one person responded with: “So only progressive democrats can watch hockey. So 10 fans?” . . . To which someone else responded: “Sell me your tickets since they are sold out already.” . . . Another person replied: “Guess I won’t be supporting hockey.” . . . That brought this response from someone else: “Oh no we are so devastated to lose you.”


Later in the day, the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds announced that “all guests Seattleage 12 and older will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination” in order to attend their games at accesso ShoWare Centre. . . . “In accordance with current Washington state and King County mask mandates,” the Thunderbirds said in a news release, “fans and staff will also be required to wear masks at all times except while actively eating or drinking.” . . . Those policies will be in place on Oct. 2 when the Seattle Kraken and Calgary Flames meet in an NHL exhibition game, and on Oct. 9 when the Thunderbirds entertain the Portland Winterhawks’ in Seattle’s home-opener. . . .

The Winterhawks announced on Aug. 25 that “all fans ages 12 and up will be Portlandrequired to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 upon entry. . . . Your final dose of the vaccine must have been administered more than 14 days before the attending event. Those who cannot provide proof of vaccination will be allowed to show documentation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of puck drop. Ticket holders with religious or medical exemptions against the vaccine must still provide documentation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of puck drop. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from both the vaccine requirement and alternative testing option.” . . . As well, the Winterhawks announced that “all attendees and staff ages five and over will be required to wear masks at all times inside Veterans Memorial Coliseum, except when actively eating and drinking. This policy is per the mask mandate issued on Aug. 13 in Multnomah County.”



On Aug. 23, the Calgary Hitmen announced that “Calgary Sports and Entertainment (CSEC) will be implementing a COVID-19 vaccination policy that will require all fans (eligible to receive the vaccine), event staff and employees to be fully vaccinated for attendance at live events at the Scotiabank Saddledome and McMahon Stadium. We are targeting Sept. 15 as the effective policy date.” . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings are operating under a similar policy after the parent Edmonton Oilers announced that proof of vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours will be needed for fans 12 and older to attend games at Rogers Place. . . .

On Aug. 16, the WHL announced that “effective immediately, all WHL roster players, hockey operations staff and other team and WHL office personnel along with officials must be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the start of the 2021-22 WHL regular season. . . . In addition to players, the mandatory vaccination policy will apply to general managers, coaches, head scouts or director of player personnel, trainers, equipment managers, on-ice and off-ice consultants, on-ice officials and ice level off-ice officials (penalty box attendants, timekeepers and scorekeepers) and any other individuals who interact directly and on a regular basis with players.”

I have lost track of what other junior teams are doing in terms of demanding proof of vaccination from fans — just like I have lost track of all the recommendations and restrictions that seem to change every month in various jurisdictions — but I would guess that it will become standard procedure at every junior hockey arena in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest before long.

The IIHF’s 2022 men’s U-18 world championship will be played in Germany — in Landshut and Kaufbeuren — from April 21 through May 1.


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