When it was first learned that veteran defenseman Duncan Keith was going to miss the start of Edmonton Oilers training camp due to his being in quarantine after getting his vaccination shots in the United States, there was a lot of chatter as to what the delay was. At the time, general manager Ken Holland said, “To get vaccinated has been a personal decision and it’s been an easy decision for some and it’s been difficult for some. It was a difficult decision for Duncan.”
Keith talked more about that after his on-ice session with the team today.
Keith noted to the media that he’s done a lot to keep his immune system strong and healthy. He added it was frustrating to have to take the vaccine to play hockey then noted travel regulations were a big part of his decision to get vaccinated. He believes there should have been a bit more pushback from the players association to support players who were reluctant to get vaccinated.
Needless to say, there will be fans who are glad to have Keith in the fold, but others who won’t like these comments at all.
Duncan Keith Edmonton Oilers skating
Keith did add that it is what it is, he’s happy to be back and ready to contribute. He sang the praises of the hockey club and said he feels spoiled by the way he’s been treated by the Oilers. He noted that the Oilers organization has been extremely welcoming and that he did what he could to be ready for camp, even though the situation was “not ideal.” He noted: “I did a lot of good training as best as I could.”
Can Fans Overlook Keith’s Bumpy Entrance Into the Organization?
The Oilers need a healthy and productive Duncan Keith. They’ve invested a lot in him as a second-pairing defenseman. While there will always be a crowd that hates the Keith trade — mostly because of the cost associated with acquiring him — others won’t love his comments about the pressures of being vaccinated. Still, if he’s useful and contributes, there will be a number of members of the fan base who let it slide.
Unfortunately for Keith, he’s facing an uphill battle with the Oilers faithful and these comments didn’t likely help his becoming a fan favorite. A strong start to the season will be key for Keith, who tends to play with a chip on his shoulder anyways. If he looks slow and unproductive to start, this could be a long year.
Some will argue that it’s good he just got the vaccine so he can be a part of the team this season. That’s fair. As Jason Gregor wrote: “Keith doesn’t have to love the fact he needed to get vaccinated. What matters is that he did. I’d much rather have people say they didn’t want to take it, but still took it, rather than not take it all. Most important is he got the jab. He doesn’t need to be elated about it.”