New Jersey Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood gets first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

New Jersey Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine late last week, the team confirmed to ESPN on Monday.

When fully vaccinated, Blackwood would be eligible to play for the Devils on the road against Canadian teams and to compete for a roster spot on Team Canada for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Blackwood, 24, was the Devils' only unvaccinated player entering the season. While there was no vaccine mandate from the NHL or the NHL Players Association, there are much stricter protocols for unvaccinated players. Teams had the ability to suspend unvaccinated players without pay if they were unable to participate in hockey activities. That included their ability to play games after traveling to Canada, as the NHL did not apply for a National Interest Exemption so that unvaccinated players could avoid mandatory quarantines.

Blackwood is expected to get his second dose within the next two weeks. The Devils don't travel to Canada until they face the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 3.

Blackwood didn't close the door to getting the vaccine when he spoke about his status before the season. "I've not decided one way or the other whether I'm doing it. I'm taking a little bit of extra time," Blackwood said in September. "I have a couple of health concerns and health reasons why I'm working through it a little slower. I wanted to check off a couple of boxes, and not rush to do it."

Blackwood has yet to play this season after offseason surgery on his heel.