Lockdown pain: Edmonton Oilers have now lost Puljujarvi the Bison King to COVID

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This in from the Edmonton Oilers: “Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi has been placed in COVID protocol.”

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The Oilers have also activated d-man Slater Koekkoek, who was out with injury.

My take

1. The Oilers are now minus their top three wingers, Zach Hyman to injury, and Puljujarvi and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to COVID protocol. Not good. Not even close to good. Edmonton goes into Seattle for tonight’s game seriously under-manned. There’s huge opportunity here for wingers like Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody and Seth Griffith, but the team’s overall ability to compete is seriously undermined by the NHL’s COVID protocols.

2. In the headline, I call this “lockdown pain” as opposed to COVID pain. Why? The NHL has about 90 players now on COVIC protocol. They’re all out for a substantial length of time, which has caused the cancellation of games and a watering down of existing games. But the issue now isn’t the health impacts of COVID itself. Almost all of these players — or all of these players — are either asymptomatic or are experiencing mild symptoms. In other words, their youth, their excellent fitness and their fully vaccinated status are doing what we’d hope they would do: protecting them from any kind of serious outcome of COVID. In other years if these players were this healthy they’d almost certainly still be suiting up for games and no one would think anything of it. But because the fear of COVID is so strong in a large group of people, we’re still taking extremely restrictive and punitive action when young and healthy people get the disease. Is it not time for that to end, for the NHL to stop all testing of non-symptomatic players? I would suggest it is.

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3. You could argue that if they get sick, the players will threaten spread to others. This is a fair point. It’s not unreasonable. But I will offer a counter-argument, my own take, that at this point anyone in North America who wants to be fully vaccinated is fully vaccinated. They’re also able to get booster shots. In other words, they’re highly protected from COVID, perhaps as protected as they will ever be. And, after almost two years of this mess, folks are also versed in how to protect themselves from COVID, through physical distancing and isolation if they’re highly vulnerable or around someone who is, and through changes to diet and fitness regimes that can greatly lessen obesity, which also offers solid protection from the worst outcomes. The argument that it’s time to get on with our regular lives — save for some hideous and healthcare system-threatening impact from the Omicron variant — has never been stronger. My own take is that — outside of an Omicron melt down — it’s now time to do what Sweden did from the start, and learn to live with the virus with minimal lockdown measures and a reliance on the vaccines, common sense and personal responsibility to get us through. How did this work out for Sweden? Poorly at first, as they had a high death rate, but since early June their death rate has been flat. As other jurisdictions have had third, fourth and fifth waves, Sweden so far has not.

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4. It’s too early to tell which direction the Omicron variant will take us. Some say it’s going to be the worst wave yet and crash our healthcare systems like never before, as this highly contagious variant both hammers the unvaccinated and also breaks through into the vaccinated population and produces enough outcomes to make a difference. But the early news out of South Africa, where the variant first took hold, is more hopeful than that, with leading physicians saying almost all cases have been asymptomatic or mild, with their healthcare system still on its feet, and with some even hoping that this variant will act as a form of inoculation, that if most of us get it we won’t get that sick but we’ll be protected from future more virulent variants of COVID. Of course, South Africa has a much younger and less obese population than Western nations, and it’s also had an exceedingly high level of previous COVID spread, which bolsters immunity greatly. We still don’t know how Omicron will impact our own society, one that is uniquely vulnerable to COVID because we’re older and less physically fit, on average, than other nations, and also because our highly-complex healthcare system, with its high levels of care and many rules of care, is vulnerable to being overwhelmed, with just 150 to 300 COVID patients in ICU able to overwhelm our system in Alberta, a province of 4.4 million. Our healthcare workers are outstanding, but they’re getting burnt out by a system that hasn’t been able to adapt rapidly to the threat of COVID — and anyone opposing all forms of lockdown can’t get around that fact.

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5. Also out for the Oilers tonight on COVID protocol are Duncan Keith, RNH, Ryan McLeod and Devin Shore, so five players in total, along with head coach Dave Tippett. This should make for an interesting contest, with lots of new line combinations.

I will take a wild guess at the lines for tonight:

Foegele McDavid Turris

Benson Draisaitl Yamamoto

Perlini Ryan Kassian

Griffith Sceviour Marody

Nurse Bouchard

Koekkoek Ceci

Lagesson Barrie

Skinner

Staples on politics

Are Albertans cool with an Omicron Christmas and a locked down New Year? I highly doubt it

At the Cult

McCURDY: Nuge out with COVID

STAPLES: Player grades in big win to end losing streak

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