The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Monday that assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre is being replaced by Cleveland Monsters associate coach Steve McCarthy because Lefebvre refuses to receive one of the safe and available COVID-19 vaccine shots. Due to NHL protocols, Lefebvre would be unable to perform his duties without getting vaccinated.
As part of the NHL’s health and safety protocols for the 2021-22 season, staff members who routinely come within 12 feet of club hockey operations personnel must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Per NHL protocol, he is unable to do the job we hired him for,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told Greg Wyshynski of ESPN about Lefebvre.
Kekalainen added in the official statement:
“While we are disappointed, we respect that this decision is a personal one for Sylvain and wish him well. We feel fortunate to have an outstanding coach join our club in Steve McCarthy, who has played in this league, won championships as a player and been an important member of our hockey operations department as an assistant coach in Cleveland.”
McCarthy, 40, played in eight NHL seasons between 1999-2008 and spent the past five American Hockey League campaigns working as an assistant with Cleveland.
Earlier this month, San Jose Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson stepped down from his role after he explained a medical exemption prevents him from getting any of the COVID-19 vaccines. Players are not required to be fully vaccinated, and they can opt out of the season before the deadline of Oct. 1.