One of the newest members of the Columbus Blue Jackets is not being invited to camp. Zac Rinaldo signed with the team just over a month ago, but due to his decision to remain unvaccinated, the organization has told him he is not welcome at training camp and will be sent to play with the AHL until he changes his mind.
Word started to spread on Tuesday morning that Rinaldo wasn’t on the camp roster and the club said they would elaborate later in the day. When Blue Jackets president John Davidson did finally speak with the media, he explained that Rinaldo has chosen not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and because of that, will appear at the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters training camp instead.
As per Greg Wyshynski of ESPN, Davidson said:
Forward Zac Rinaldo, who we signed to a two-way contract this summer, is not vaccinated and because of that – and that’s his decision – the plan is to start him in the American Hockey League and he will not be coming to our training camp.
Chris Johnston of the Toronto Star writes that the Blue Jackets are drawing a hard line with COVID vaccinations. They’ve already fired assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre for refusing to be vaccinated and Rinaldo is out for the same reason.
Rinaldo was part of a PPC anti-vax rally earlier this week in Canada where he said: “I’m not anti-vax, I’m not anti-mask. I’m pro-choice.” He has played 374 games in the NHL but he’s not necessarily a regular who plays with skill. With just 42 career points, he’s also got 758 penalty minutes on his NHL resume and this isn’t going to help his cause with securing full-time employment with the club, even if he chooses to get the vaccine.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly projected that only 10-15 players on NHL rosters will be unvaccinated by the start of the season but there weren’t really names being linked to that number. It’s starting to become clear who isn’t vaccinated and who won’t be a part of each respective team’s plans moving forward. It makes sense considering the NHL has set up rules and regulations that will make it very challenging for players to play the season and go unvaccinated.
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