Ken Holland didn’t say the name Josh Archibald out loud at his media avail on Wednesday morning, but while a guest on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer, he either changed his mind on keeping that information private or let it slip. Archibald was confirmed by the Oilers GM as the player who has not been vaccinated and, should he not change his mind, could miss upwards of 30-40 games this season based on travel restrictions for unvaccinated players.
While talking about Duncan Keith and his vaccination situation, Holland said it was a bit different than Archibald, but that he would be taking a similar approach with both players. He needed to take a step back and realize that this is a difficult decision for some, that changing circumstances, available information, and situations may affect the final decision by some players and that he needs to stay in communication with these players.
For many, the immediate response is to be frustrated, especially because a player on a Canadian team is likely to miss far more games than most players on U.S.-based teams. The belief is that Keith was waiting to see what might happen, is a very conscious person about what foods and substances he puts into his body, and wanted to weigh all of his options. Based on the social media activity of Archibald over the past months to a year, fans don’t seem terribly surprised, nor do they think fondly of his decision.
RE: The #Oilers and vaccinations, I have lots of time for players who make a tough decision (for them) to eventually get the shot.
I can’t same the same for Josh Archibald. It’s his right to make that decision. But it puts the club 2nd and in a very bad spot.
— Kurt Leavins (@KurtLeavins) September 22, 2021
Reactions range from anger and frustration to confusion as to why Archibald would choose to sit out so many potential games for the Oilers. Holland did say he would keep up with the player but also left it open during the media avail that he might not be on the roster. Whether or not he believed the forward might change his stance on the vaccine was not made clear.
What Happens Now With Archibald?
The immediate plan seems to be that he’ll be at camp and the team will go from there. There’s no word on how the players feel about his choice not to get the vaccine and the Oilers aren’t taking the same hard stance as some teams are. That said, eventually, this could become an issue when he’s sitting out close to half the season.
Josh Archibald Edmonton Oilers NHL
Does that mean a trade? If so, who would want to trade for a player that won’t be available when it comes time to travel across the border? Might he not make the team? Well, the Oilers are bringing in Colton Sceviour on a PTO, and non-coincidentally, they are similar players in many ways.
Could the Oilers waive the player? For now, no? Holland seems to be willing to be patient to see where this all goes over the next few weeks. At the same time, Archibald is on a one-way contract so he can’t be sent down to the minors easily and moved to a U.S. city where the border restrictions aren’t as harsh.