With barely dried ink on Sylvain Lefebvre's new contract as Columbus Blue Jackets ' assistant coach, the team announced on Monday that he was 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 a personal one for Sylvain and wishes him good luck, "club general manager and deputy governor Ja rmo Kekalainen said in a statement .
Todd Sharrock, the team 's vice president of communications, told NBC News this decision was made following the early league COVID protocol update of the month.
"The 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 including players) must be fully vaccinated. ' "
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The NHL has announced stricter policies for the season2021-2022 in 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 always be paid.
Players won't be required to get vaccinated, but coaches and other staff of the team who work closely with them will be.
League officials have estimated that between 90% and 95% of players are fully vaccinated or will be before training camps start later this month.
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 started his coaching career in 2009. He will be replaced by the former defenseman of the NHL Steve McCarthy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.