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Unvaccinated Zac Rinaldo will be paid AHL salary but won't play for Blue Jackets or affiliate

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Some NHL teams not wanting unvaccinated players on their rosters have instead optioned those individuals to AHL affiliates.

The Columbus Blue Jackets won't even offer that option to center Zac Rinaldo.

Rinaldo, 31, signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Blue Jackets this offseason. Columbus did not invite the Mississauga, Ontario native to training camp since he refused the COVID-19 vaccine. He cleared waivers Friday and won't report to Columbus' AHL club in Cleveland either.

He will be paid his full AHL-level salary of $300,000 but will not be assigned to the Cleveland Monsters when they begin practices as a team Tuesday.

Zac Rinaldo played for the Calgary Flames the previous two seasons before signing a one-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets following the 2020-21 season.
Zac Rinaldo played for the Calgary Flames the previous two seasons before signing a one-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets following the 2020-21 season.

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“Our position has been very clear that our organization is committed to doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and fans,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “Given the impact COVID-19 continues to have in our communities, we believe the best course of action given Zac’s vaccination status is to not have him report to Cleveland at this time.

"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."

A handful of players across the league remain unvaccinated as the league's protocols incentivized inoculations.

Contributing: The Columbus Post-Dispatch

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Zac Rinaldo, unvaccinated NHL player, won't go to Jackets' AHL team