The Columbus Blue Jackets announced today that forward Zac Rinaldo won't be invited to their training camp due to his inability to get COVID-19 vaccine.
John Davison, team president, stated Tuesday that Forward Zac Rinaldo (whom we signed to a 2-way contract this summer) isn't vaccinated. He will be starting in the American Hockey League, and he won't be attending our training camp.
In August, Rinaldo, a 31-year-old, signed a two-way, one-year contract with Columbus. He is known for his physical aggression and was expected to play energy as a depth winger with the Jackets.
Rinaldo was the talk of the town when he said that he supported People's Party of Canada's anti-vaccine mandates platform at a Hamilton rally on Sept. 16. According to Davidson, Rinaldo's unvaccinated status made it an outlier for Blue Jackets.
Davidson stated that there will be 67 camp players and all of them will be vaccinated. "Everything that we do, we do as a team."
Jarmo Kekalainen, general manager of the NHL team, stated that "the ball is in his favor right now" with regard to Rinaldo's future.
Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner, stated last week that approximately 98% of NHL players will be vaccinated before the start of the season. There are roughly 700 players in 32 teams. This leaves only 10-15 unvaccinated.
The NHL and NHL Players Association don't have a vaccine requirement for players. However, unvaccinated players will live drastically different lives in the league from vaccinated ones. This includes testing mandates, social distancing, travel, and more. To avoid a 14-day quarantine, unvaccinated players cannot travel from the U.S.A to Canada. Unvaccinated players can be suspended by teams if they are unable to participate in hockey activities.
Davidson stated that the team worked closely with NHL officials and trusted their judgement on protocols.
It's huge, when you look at the number of players and percentage of [NHL] player who have been vaccinated, it is huge. That's your choice. Davidson stated that he was not going to tell anyone what to do.
Rinaldo could find it costly to play for his sixth NHL team. His salary in the NHL is $750,000 while his AHL salary with Cleveland Monsters is $275,000 according to Cap Friendly.