The ink barely dried on Sylvain Lefebvre’s new contract as Columbus blue jackets‘ Assistant coach, the team announced on Monday that he was being fired for his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Lefebvre, who played 14 seasons as a defender in the NHL, was fired after signing a new contract as the team’s assistant coach in June.
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“Although we are disappointed, we respect the fact that this decision is personal for Sylvain and we wish him good luck,” club general manager and deputy governor Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. declaration.
Todd Sharrock, vice president of team communications, said NBC News the move came in the wake of the league’s updated COVID protocols earlier this month.
“Protocols were sent to the clubs in early September,” he said. “The protocols state in part that” any person whose job, role, position or access involves or permits personal interactions (within 12 feet) with hockey club operations personnel (including players ) must be fully vaccinated. “”
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The NHL has announced stricter policies for the 2021-2022 season during which unvaccinated players could be suspended without pay if they cannot participate in team activities. Fully vaccinated players will have all COVID-19 positives treated as hockey injuries and will still be paid.
Players will not be mandated to be vaccinated, but coaches and other team staff who work closely with them will.
League officials have estimated that between 90 and 95 percent of players are fully vaccinated or will be before training camps start later this month.
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Lefebvre, 53, played for the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and the Colorado Avalanche, where he won the Stanley Cup in 1996.
He began his coaching career in 2009. He will be replaced by former NHL defenseman Steve McCarthy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.