Goalie Mackenzie Blackwood is the lone member of the New Jersey Devils that has not received the COVID-19 vaccine, although the 24-year-old has not ruled out getting the shot, it was revealed on Tuesday.
"I've just been working through the process of it from a health standpoint, and just kind of [am] checking off my boxes with that first," Blackwood told the media.
Unvaccinated NHL players will have to deal with numerous restrictions this upcoming season, most notably they won't be allowed to travel across the border to Canada.
The Devils have nine games in Canada this season.
"Yeah, I've looked at the calendar, I've kind of seen where we travel to places where that could be an issue," explained Blackwood. "I have a couple things that personally [I'm] making sure I take care of at the moment, and you know, it's definitely something that I'm thinking about every single day so it's not like I haven't been thinking this a lot, it's front and centre in my life right now."
The Thunder, Bay, Ont., native said he has felt the support from this teammates as he figures out his situation.
"I'm not trying to be a distraction to them while I work through it," Blackwood said. "I am really lucky to have a great set of teammates that support me no matter what, whether they agree or disagree with me.
"It's tough for me to be in the situation I'm in, because it puts a little bit of strain on my teammates and staff around me, which I don't enjoy, and I don't like being the cause of that."
Head coach Lindy Ruff said on Tuesday that Blackwood's decision does "not change anything at all" in the short-term.
Blackwood appeared in 35 games with the Devils in the 56-game 2020-21 season, posting a 14-17-4 record with a 3.04 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.
The Devils selected Blackwood in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and he has appeared in a total of 105 games over three seasons with the Devils.