Columbus Blue Jackets has announced that forward Zac Rinaldo will not be invited to their training camp as he is unvaccinated against Covid-19.
“Forward Zac Rinaldo, to whom we signed a two-way deal this summer, has not been vaccinated and for that reason – and this is his decision – he plans to start in the American Hockey League and he will not come to our training camp,” the team said. President John Davison said Tuesday.
Rinaldo, 31, signed a one-year, bilateral deal with Columbus in August. Known for his aggressive physique, he was expected as an energy player as a depth winger for the Jackets.
Speaking at a rally in Hamilton on September 16, Ronaldo made headlines, saying he supported the People’s Party of Canada because it was against the vaccine mandate. According to Davidson, his non-vaccinated condition made him an outsider for the Blue Jacket.
Davidson said, “We will have 67 players in our camp and they will all be vaccinated. “Everything we do, we put together as a team.”
“The ball is in his court right now,” said general manager Jarmo Keklanen about Ronaldo’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. Of the approximately 700 players in the 32 teams, 10-15 are vaccinated.
The NHL and NHL Players Association do not have a vaccine order for players, but unvaccinated players will live a completely different life in the league than vaccination, from the test order to the social distance traveled. For example, there is no travel discount for players who do not travel to Canada from the United States to avoid a 14-day quarantine. Teams will have the ability to suspend players who fail to participate in hockey activities.
Davidson said the team has worked closely with the NHL and believes in their decision on protocol.
“When you read the number of players vaccinated and the percentage of [NHL] players, it’s a big, big number. And that’s a personal choice. I’m not going to sit here and tell them what to do, even if I want to see the whole world vaccinated.” Davidson said.
The decision could be costly for Ronaldo, who is playing for his sixth NHL team: his NHL salary is $ 750,000, while his AHL salary with the Cleveland Monsters is $ 275,000, according to Cap Friendly.