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Blackhawks Bits: NHL players reportedly out of Olympics; United Center requiring vaccines

Another round of media reports have emerged on Tuesday.

USA vs Canada Hockey Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Another day, another round of COVID-related issues for the NHL — and the sports world overall, of course.

Reports have been pouring in all day that the NHL and NHLPA have agreed that their players will no longer be playing in next year’s Winter Olympics, citing ongoing concerns with the pandemic:

It’s a move that’s felt inevitable since the emergence of the Omicron variant and its rapid spread across the world. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane — who would’ve been a lock for the Team USA roster — spoke about the decision after Tuesday’s practice:

The good news, from a hockey perspective, is that there is an effort being made to play NHL games during the three-week gap on the schedule that was being reserved for the Olympics:

In other COVID news, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, with announcements that included a new policy related to entry of public buildings in the city. Blackhawks’ home games appear to be part of the new requirement which takes place on Jan. 3 of next year, when several categories of public places in Chicago will now require proof of vaccination upon entry:

In September, the United Center announced a policy of requiring proof of vaccination OR a negative COVID test. No formal confirmation from the team or the United Center has come yet, but it appears the latter of those two options has been taken away.

In uplifting news, Blackhawks forward Jujhar Khaira was back on the ice Tuesday, skating with his teammates for the final practice before the team adjourns for the holiday break:

Let’s end with a laugh as Patrick Kane scores on Marc-Andre Fleury during a shootout drill at practice then expertly trolls his veteran teammate a few seconds later: