Sharks associate coach can't stay on staff due to NHL's COVID-19 rules

Bruce Kluckhohn / National Hockey League / Getty

San Jose Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson is no longer with the club because the NHL's new vaccination protocols prohibit him from being a part of the team.

"Due to a medical exemption that prevents me from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, under the new league protocols, I am not permitted to fulfill my duties on the Sharks coaching staff at this time," Thompson said in a statement. "I will have no further comment on this matter."

The NHL's new rules reportedly allow for the suspension of unvaccinated players with certain exceptions, including for medical reasons. The protocols also severely limit what unvaccinated players can do and where they can go. However, the restrictions for coaches are unclear.

The Sharks will replace Thompson soon. The 44-year-old joined San Jose's staff as Bob Boughner's second-in-command in September 2020. Thompson previously guided the AHL's Chicago Wolves as their head coach for three seasons beginning in 2017-18.

He also led the OHL's Windsor Spitfires to the 2017 Memorial Cup championship, and before that served as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers.

Thompson played 25 NHL games over four campaigns as a defenseman with the Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames. The former enforcer spent the majority of his on-ice career in the AHL.

Sharks associate coach can't stay on staff due to NHL's COVID-19 rules
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