Blue Jackets banish Zac Rinaldo for vaccination stance

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The Blue Jackets won't assign Zac Rinaldo to the AHL. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Blue Jackets won't assign Zac Rinaldo to the AHL. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have drawn a hard line with vaccinations in their organization, and on Friday they backed it up.

After he officially cleared waivers, the Blue Jackets announced they will not send forward Zac Rinaldo to Cleveland of the American Hockey League due to the fact that he's choosing to remain unvaccinated.

"While we respect an individual's right to make a personal choice with regards to being vaccinated or not, we have a responsibility to do what we believe is best for our organization," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement.

Also included in the statement is that the Blue Jackets are allowing Rinaldo to pursue other playing opportunities. Until then, it will be isolation for Rinaldo, though he will continue to earn on the $300,000 guaranteed in his contract for this season with Columbus.

Rinaldo is one of only a handful of NHL players opting against the jab, but one of only few who will see the decision cost them a roster position. Bode Wilde is another after being loaned to a professional team in Sweden days into New York Islanders training camp.

Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings and Mackenzie Blackwood of the New Jersey Devils are among higher-profile players who will accept the serious concessions and loss of pay in order to remain unvaccinated. Coincidentally (or not), Bertuzzi and Blackwood share the same agent as Rinaldo.

The NHL projected that 98 percent of players would be vaccinated before the start of training camps but it seems that number could rise. Duncan Keith of the Edmonton Oilers is one outspoken player who reluctantly accepted the vaccine. However, it seems unlikely the league will reach 100 percent with several players remaining firm on the decision despite the blowblack they've received.

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