NHL team replaces coach over vaccine refusal

An NHL team is replacing one of its assistant coaches after he refused to get the coronavirus vaccine. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Monday that Sylvain Lefebvre would no longer be an assistant coach because of his decision not to get the jab. 

"While we are disappointed, we respect that this decision is a personal one for Sylvain and wish him well," club General Manager and Alternate Governor Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. 

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Lefebvre’s resignation from the team comes three months after he signed a three-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, NBC News reported.

The NHL requires anyone in close contact with the players to be fully vaccinated. 

Lefebvre will be replaced as assistant coach by Steve McCarthy, a Cleveland Monsters associate coach and former NHL defenseman.

“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,” Kekalainen said. 

"Steve has done a great job working with our young defensemen in Cleveland the past five years and is ready for this opportunity," said head coach Brad Larsen. "He is a really bright, young coach with a great work ethic and I'm excited about what he will bring to our staff."

The NHL, NFL and NBA have all imposed strict vaccination requirements on those who are working with the players, prompting some resignations in the professional sports leagues. 

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In particular, vaccination status has caused controversy among players and coaches in the NFL. Most recently, quarterback Cam Newton was released from the New England Patriots after stating that he thought his vaccination status was too personal to discuss. 

Following his remarks on vaccinations, he missed three days of practice following what the team said was a "misunderstanding" about COVID-19 protocols, according to The New York Times.

However, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick later stated that no player was released due to their vaccination status.