Former Bruin unvaccinated, uninvited from Jackets camp


Zac Rinaldo's stint with the Columbus Blue Jackets may be over before it even begins.

The former Boston Bruins winger, whom Don Sweeney infamously gave up a third-round draft pick to acquire from the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2015, won't be invited to training camp with the Blue Jackets because he isn't vaccinated against COVID-19, according to ESPN.

Rinaldo, now 31, signed a two-way deal with Columbus this summer after stops with the Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames since giving the Bruins a goal, two assists and a minus-5 rating in 52 games in the 2015-16 season. But as the NHL closes in on a 100% vaccination rate, Rinaldo's status as an outlier has compromised his tenure with the Jackets.

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"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," team president John Davison told ESPN.

The NHL does not currently have a vaccination mandate for players.

Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said "the ball is in his court right now" in regards to Rinaldo's future.

Rinaldo, who is from Canada, spoke at a rally in Hamilton, Ontario last week in support of a group against vaccine mandates, ESPN reported.

Over nine NHL seasons, Rinaldo has recorded 18 goals and 24 assists for 42 points, 572 penalty minutes and a minus-30 rating. He's been suspended by the league five times for on-ice incidents, including once for five games with the Bruins for an illegal check to the head of an opposing player.