Columbus Blue Jackets forward Zac Rinaldo will not attend the team's NHL training camp because he is unvaccinated against COVID-19, president of hockey operations John Davidson announced via The Athletic's Aaron Portzline.
Rinaldo will report to the Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters, for their training camp, which opens later this month. The 31-year-old joined Columbus on a one-year, two-way contract back in August.
The Blue Jackets have already replaced assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre, who declined to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association did not impose a vaccine mandate on players, but restrictions — including the potential of not being able to cross the border from the U.S. into Canada without a lengthy quarantine — contributed to the number.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly estimates that 98 per cent of players will be vaccinated, leaving between 10 and 15 players unvaccinated among roughly 700 on 32 teams across North America.
Teams will be able to suspend unvaccinated players without pay if they cannot participate in hockey activities as part of the protocols, which could include games in Canada.
Fully vaccinated players will have any COVID-19 positive tests treated as hockey injuries and still be paid. Unvaccinated players also will have their movements restricted when on the road. And there will still be regular coronavirus testing for vaccinated players.
Rinaldo, 31, has 18 goals, 24 assists and 758 penalty minutes in 374 career NHL games.
The Mississauga, Ont., native has had previous stints with the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators and the Calgary Flames -- whom he played four games for in 2020-21.
- With files from the Associated Press.