Zac Rinaldo Barred from Blue Jackets Camp, Isn't Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 21, 2021

OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 01: Calgary Flames Left Wing Zac Rinaldo (36) during warm-up before National Hockey League action between the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators on March 1, 2021, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Zac Rinaldo won't attend the team's training camp because he has yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

"It's an important issue for us," said John Davidson, the Blue Jackets president of hockey operations. "It's a team-first issue."

He added that all 67 players at the team's camp will be vaccinated.

Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli noted Rinaldo is still entitled to receive a $300,000 salary despite starting the 2021-22 season in the AHL.

During a rally for the People's Party of Canada last week, Rinaldo voiced his criticism of vaccine passports, saying he was "not anti-vax" or "anti-mask" but "pro-choice."

Columbus already sent a message when it fired assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre because he wouldn't take the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Sept. 2, the NHL released its COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming season. Although players aren't required to get vaccinated, those who are unvaccinated are subject to stricter rules off the ice.

One of the biggest aspects of the protocols pertains to entry into Canada. Players aren't exempt from the country's travel restrictions, so unvaccinated parties may be barred from entering or subject to quarantine procedures when they arrive.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Seravalli the league is expecting around 10 to 15 players in total will be unvaccinated when the season opens.

Rinaldo spent the last two seasons with the Calgary Flames. In 23 appearances over that span, he had three goals and two assists.

The 31-year-old's odds of landing a meaningful role on the Blue Jackets were long enough as is. By missing training camp, the likelihood becomes even slimmer.