“Forward Zac Rinaldo, with whom we signed a two-pronged contract this summer, is not vaccinated and because of that – and it is his decision – the plan is to launch him in the American Hockey League. and he’s not coming to our training camp, ”team president John Davison said on Tuesday.
Rinaldo, 31, signed a two-year, one-year contract with Columbus in August. Known for his aggressive physique, he was expected to be an energetic player as a through end for the Jackets.
Rinaldo made headlines when he spoke at a rally in Hamilton on September 16, saying he supported the People’s Party of Canada because it was against vaccination mandates. His unvaccinated status made him an outlier for the Blue Jackets, according to Davidson.
“We’re going to have 67 players in our camp and they’re all going to be vaccinated,” Davidson said. “Everything we do, we do together as a team. “
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen said “the ball is in his court right now” regarding Rinaldo’s future with the NHL team.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said last week that about 98% of players are expected to be vaccinated by the start of the season on October 12. Out of around 700 players spread across 32 teams, that leaves 10 to 15 players unvaccinated.
The NHL and NHLPA do not have vaccination mandates for players, but unvaccinated players will lead very different lives in the league than the vaccinated, from testing warrants to social distancing to travel. For example, there is no travel exemption for unvaccinated players traveling from the United States to Canada to avoid a 14-day quarantine. Teams will have the option of suspending unvaccinated players who cannot participate in hockey activities.
Davidson said the team have worked closely with the NHL and trust their judgment on the protocols.
“When you read the number of players and the percentage of [NHL] players who have been vaccinated, that’s a big, big number. And that’s the personal choice. I’m not going to sit here and tell them what to do, even though I want to see the whole world get vaccinated, ”Davidson said.
The decision could be costly for Rinaldo, who plays for his sixth team in the NHL: his NHL salary is $ 750,000, while his AHL salary with the Cleveland Monsters is $ 275,000, according to Cap Friendly. .