Blue Jackets' Rinaldo not invited to camp because he's not vaccinated
Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson confirmed Tuesday that forward Zac Rinaldo was not invited to training camp because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Columbus Dispatch's Brian Hedger.
Davidson added that the rest of the Blue Jackets' 67 camp invitees are all vaccinated and Rinaldo will start with the club's AHL affiliate once it begins to practice.
Ronaldo, a 31-year-old Ontario native, appeared at a right-wing political rally in Canada last week and gave a speech against vaccine passports. "I'm not anti-vax, I'm not anti-mask. I'm pro choice," he said, according to the Hamilton Spectator's Matthew Van Dongen.
"The ball is in his court right now," Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said Tuesday, per The Athletic's Aaron Portzline. "We do everything as a team. That's a requirement of being a Blue Jacket. We're going with the group we have here, which is 100% vaccinated. We'll see how it develops."
This isn't the first time that the Blue Jackets have had to navigate the NHL's new vaccination protocols. They had to replace assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre earlier in September after he refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The NHL released a memo in August saying all hockey operations personnel must be fully vaccinated. Teams can reportedly suspend unvaccinated players if they are unable to participate in league activities. Players can apparently be excepted from that policy for medical reasons or due to strong religious beliefs.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly projected 98% of players will be vaccinated by the time the 2021-22 season begins in October.
Rinaldo signed a one-year, two-way $750,000 deal with Columbus this offseason.
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