For a time, the New York Islanders’ organization–and fans alike–were excited about the prospect they had in Bode Wilde. He’s a talented 200-foot player who plays a strong defensive game, which would fit perfectly in the Isles’ organization.
Especially with the loss of Nick Leddy, speculation that Wilde would finally see NHL ice time ran rampant. He was a second-round pick in 2018 (41st overall), and is a smart, young player who already shows signs of extreme poise. He’s got high hockey IQ and can read plays well, is a big body (he stands at 6’3″, 192 pounds) and has a heck of a shot.
But, Bode Wilde did not join the New York Islanders’ training camp this year. After general manager Lou Lamoriello made very public statements that the entire Isles NHL roster was vaccinated, he told New York Post reporter Mollie Walker that he would not allow any unvaccinated player to join the squad.
Lamoriello then continued his conversation with Walker, noting that there was a single minor league player who would not get vaccinated, and that said player would be playing elsewhere for the 2021-2022 NHL season. He did not name the player at the time but, when Wilde did not join training camp, speculation suggested he was the lone unvaccinated player.
Bode Wilde responds to New York Islanders’ vaccine stance
The Montreal-born, 21-year old defenseman then took to Twitter and Instagram to air his grievances, replying to comments made by others with a sentiment that he was “hoping [his] human rights are enough to let [him] play.” Soon after, his accounts went private.
On Tuesday, the New York Islanders announced that Bode Wilde would be on loan to Swedish club Vasterviks IK, fulfilling Lamoriello’s promise. While Wilde may be a promising prospect, Lou Lamoriello is notorious for having very strict rules when running organization–rules that he demands be followed and respected. It doesn’t seem shocking that Wilde was sent away for refusing to comply to the rules.
Bode Wilde is not the only unvaccinated player in the league. The NHL noted that there are still 10 or 15 unvaccinated players in the league. But he is not the only one who is seeing consequences. William Nylander admitted that he was not fully vaccinated, but would be before the season started. Tyler Bertuzzi remains unvaccinated for the Detroit Red Wings, calling it a “life choice.” And while he is still in the Red Wings’ training camp, he is currently unable to play in any away games in Canada, as per country and league policies. Zac Rinaldo is unwelcome at the Columbus Blue Jackets’ training camp because he, too, is not vaccinated.
Each unvaccinated player (though it’s unclear if Bode Wilde falls into this category) is subject to a fine of up to $400,000 as a means of reprimand by the league. But, as fans well know, Lou Lamoriello has been a strong, strict leader since well before the pandemic.
Lamoriello spent the majority of his career as the general manager of the New Jersey Devils and, when social media became popular, did not allow the players to use public profiles. He also has strict policies regarding hair length, beards and the numbers on jerseys (they can’t be too high, with few exceptions). He carried these policies and mandates throughout his time in Toronto and, now, in New York, though those with social media profiles before his presence in the organization grandfathered them in, though many seem to use them a lot less.
It doesn’t seem that shocking that Lamoriello did not like that Bode Wilde refused to acknowledge his policies, and sent him away as a result. It has long been the Lamoriello way, and now Wilde will be watching this season’s Islanders games from Sweden.