Jackets' Foligno: Players who feel unsafe returning shouldn't be vilified
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Nick Foligno wants to ensure that NHL players who aren't comfortable suiting up go uncriticized if and when the season resumes.

"I think it has to because that's just human rights," the Columbus Blue Jackets captain told TSN's Mark Masters when asked if a player not wanting to play would be welcomed. "If you don't feel safe to return, I think there needs to be some sort of way for those guys not to be vilified. No one's going to look at you (unfavorably) for not wanting to go back, and I don't think they should be.

"If you don't feel safe because of a condition or just a belief, then you have every right as a human not to return to play until you feel comfortable about it."

The veteran forward would understand if a player needed to prioritize their health or their family's well-being amid the ongoing pandemic.

"I've taken time away and been with my family for things that are bigger than hockey, (and) this is obviously bigger than hockey, so I would respect anyone that doesn't feel comfortable (enough) to come back," Foligno said. "I also respect the guys that do want to come back. If they feel safe enough and are good with the answers (health officials and the league) are giving, I look at both sides, and I think that's the right thing to do. But I'm sure there will be something built in to at least respect some guys who don't feel quite as comfortable, and we'll support those people all the way."

On Tuesday, Foligno said "there's going to be a fight" if someone tells him he can't see his family when the league resumes play.

Earlier that day, the NHL formalized its 24-team playoff and return-to-play plan. The league reportedly won't begin training camps before July 10.

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Jackets' Foligno: Players who feel unsafe returning shouldn't be vilified
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