A recent report from The Athletic divulged that 95 percent of NHL players have been fully vaccinated ahead of training camp, either receiving a single dose of Johnson & Johnson or two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.
According to defenseman Dmitry Orlov, the Capitals are one of the teams behind the curve and he’s part of the reason why. During a September 6 Russian language podcast interview with Mikhail Cherkasov, Orlov explained his perspective. He believed that being vaccinated with such stringent NHL protocols didn’t make “much sense.” Orlov is quarantining in Washington DC after flying across the pond from his native Russia ahead of training camp.
As a reminder, per the CDC, vaccines are highly effective at protecting people from COVID-19, especially severe illness and death, and that vaccines reduce the risk of spreading it to others. The AP reported that nearly all COVID deaths in the United States now are among people who have chosen not to be vaccinated.
Orlov’s interview was translated by RMNB’s Igor Kleyner.
You always come to play for the national team, you never decline.
Dmitry Orlov: Yes, I have never declined such invitation. Although there were such thoughts (this year), because you have to sit through another quarantine, and I am sick and tired of being quarantined. It has been three or four times already. And now, again, when I fly to Washington, I will have to be quarantined for a week yet again, because I haven’t been vaccinated yet, and such rules still remain in place. So most likely I will have to be vaccinated there before the season starts so that this will not be a burden on me anymore. There are more and more professional athletes who do that in order to avoid complications and live a normal life and not have to be tested all the time. It takes too much effort, you have to come to the arena every day, you have to test every morning, you have to wear a mask, it just doesn’t make sense, because you are with the guys all the time, in the locker room, on the ice, so you can be infected, but those are the rules…
But if you are vaccinated – no quarantine?
Dmitry Orlov: Yes, you live your normal life, just like you did before the pandemic, and can do whatever you want.
But Russian vaccines do not count there…
Dmitry Orlov: As of now, no. Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J – those are the three. That’s the choice we were all given during the season just before the playoffs. 85% of the team decided to vaccinate.
But you did not?
Dmitry Orlov: Not at that time.
Were you afraid?
Dmitry Orlov: No. I just didn’t think it made much sense, in any case, we were told even if we do the vaccine we would have to continue testing and do everything we were doing throughout the season before vaccines became available. And we were told even if vaccinated we could still get sick. So everything remains as it was, but just to have more time for rest and think less about it.
If Orlov’s 85 percent vaccinated guess is referring just to the team’s active roster of 23, that means there are about three or four players who chose not to get jabbed at the time.
Orlov ultimately hedges that he will likely be vaccinated in the fall as the annoyances of daily testing and quarantines are no longer worth it (instead of the really awesome positives like being mostly protected from dying or being less likely to spread the disease to others). On top of that, the NHL’s new COVID-19 protocols give teams the ability to suspend unvaccinated players without pay, which puts additional pressure on galaxy brain players who are putting it off.
The Capitals Russians’ lax views on the coronavirus ultimately hurt the team last season. Orlov, along with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Ilya Samsonov, ended up in protocol in January after playing video games and watching UFC fights in the same hotel room during the first road trip of the season. The decision also got the Capitals fined $100,000 by the NHL.
“I just want to say, there was a moment when I woke up, and almost cried happy tears when I realized I can walk and breathe,” Kuznetsov said. “There were some moments. Difficult. Everything happens for the first time, you never know what to expect next. The way this disease goes – one day you are fine, the next day it’s bad. Only those who got sick with symptoms will understand what I am talking about. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.”
At the end of the year, Kuznetsov and Samsonov landed in protocol again and even missed games in the playoffs. Kuznetsov, apparently, earned the distinction of being the only player in the NHL last year to get the disease twice. The Capitals responded by looking to deal Kuznetsov over the summer but were unable to find a suitor.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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