Despite signing a contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets just over a month ago, Zac Rinaldo is not invited to their training camp. When speaking with the media today, Blue Jackets president John Davidson explained that Rinaldo has chosen not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and because of that, will appear at the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters training camp instead. Greg Wyshynski of ESPN tweeted the full quote:
Forward Zac Rinaldo, who we signed to a two-way contract this summer, is not vaccinated and because of that – and that’s his decision – the plan is to start him in the American Hockey League and he will not be coming to our training camp.
Rinaldo, 31, has played 374 games in the NHL but is known much more for his skill with his fists than the puck. The veteran forward has just 42 career points but has racked up 758 penalty minutes. The likelihood of him securing a full-time role on the Blue Jackets was already very slim, but appears to be non-existent now as the league’s strict policies make it difficult to carry a player who has refused the vaccine. Recently, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly projected that only 10-15 players on NHL rosters will be unvaccinated by the start of the season. The Blue Jackets announced that the other 67 players invited to NHL training camp are vaccinated.
Still, it is likely that Rinaldo and his agents already knew that he would be playing in the AHL for a good portion of the year since they negotiated a hefty $300K minor league guarantee. Despite his $275K AHL salary, he’ll receive the full $300K even if he fails to play a single game for Columbus.
Additionally, The Columbus Dispatch’s Brian Hedger reports that the NHLPA will review the situation, considering Rinaldo has not officially been sent to AHL Cleveland as of yet.
Rinaldo played four games last season for the Calgary Flames, scoring zero points.