Columbus Blue Jackets forward Zac Rinaldo has cleared waivers but will not be assigned to the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters, amid concerns over him being unvaccinated.
The Blue Jackets said they will still honour Rinaldo's contract, a one-year, two-way deal signed in August. Rinaldo had been unable to attend training camp because of his vaccination status.
“Our position has been very clear that our organization is committed to doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and fans,” Blue Jackets general manager and alternate governor Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “Given the impact COVID-19 continues to have in our communities, we believe the best course of action given Zac’s vaccination status is to not have him report to Cleveland at this time.
"While we respect an individual’s right to make a personal choice with regards to being vaccinated or not, we have a responsibility to do what we believe is best for our organization. We will honor Zac’s contract, but if he wants to pursue any other opportunities to play this season we will allow him to do so.”
Rinaldo has 18 goals, 24 assists and 758 penalty minutes in 374 games over 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames.
The Blue Jackets parted ways with assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre earlier this month after he declined to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
Columbus announced goaltender Cam Johnson has also cleared waivers and has been assigned to the Cleveland Monsters.