Hamilton’s Zac Rinaldo not allowed at Columbus Blue Jackets training camp after refusing COVID-19 vaccine

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Published September 21, 2021 at 5:22 pm

Forward Zac Rinaldo will not be attending training camp with the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets ahead of the 2021 season.

The 31-year-old Hamilton native wasn’t listed on the Blue Jackets’ camp roster, released Tuesday (Sept. 21). Aaron Portzline of The Athletic later confirmed that Rinaldo isn’t welcome because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We’re going to have 67 players come into camp and they’re fully vaccinated,” the Jackets’ president of hockey operations, John Davidson told Portzline. “It’s a really important issue for us. It’s a team-first issue. We win as a team and lose as a team.m Everything we do, we do together.”

The Jackets have taken a hard stance against unvaccinated staff and players. Earlier this month, assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre was replaced after refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“As we continue to navigate through COVID-19, we have to do what we have to do. I’m proud of our group, and I am proud that they recognize we need to do everything we can to protect ourselves and others,” Davidson told Portzline.

On Sept. 15, ahead of the Canadian federal election, Rinaldo was a guest speaker at a People’s Party of Canada rally. The fringe nationalist political party ran on a platform based around the elimination of mask and vaccine mandates during the pandemic.

Rinaldo signed a one-year, two-way contract with Columbus last month.

He has now been assigned to attend training camp with the Jackets’ American Hockey League affiliate in Cleveland.

Rinaldo appeared in four games with the Calgary Flames last season and has scored a total of 18 goals and 24 assists over 374 career games in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators, and Flames. Rinaldo has 758 penalty minutes since entering the league in 2010.

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