The Columbus Blue Jackets will open training camp with nearly 40 forwards in attendance, but Zac Rinaldo reportedly won't be among them.
The 31-year-old former Flame, Predator, Coyote, Bruin and Flyer inked a one-year, two-way deal in August, but it appears Rinaldo won't even have a sniff with the NHL club — at least not until he's vaccinated.
According to The Athletic's Aaron Portzline, citing a source close to Rinaldo, the newly signed forward was informed loud-and-clear that he "wasn't welcome" at the team's training camp and that he'll be starting the year, at least, with the team's AHL affiliate in Cleveland.
Rinaldo is a fringe NHLer at best, but his talent level clearly isn't the reason for all of this, as Rinaldo is reportedly the only Blue Jackets player who hasn't been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Davidson says Rinaldo is not vaccinated. He will start in the AHL and will not be coming to #CBJ training camp.
— Alison (@AlisonL) September 21, 2021
The news of Rinaldo's riff with his new team comes days after the Hamilton, Ont., product attended a People's Party of Canada rally and delivered a short speech against vaccine passports, saying, among other things, “I’m not anti-vax, I’m not anti-mask. I’m pro choice.”
The Blue Jackets have had their hands full dealing with vaccine-related fallout the past couple weeks. Earlier this month, the team parted ways with newly hired assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre for being unable to "perform the duties required of him given current NHL protocols" after he opted not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
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