COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A Columbus Blue Jackets assistant coach has decided to leave the team rather than receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The team announced Monday that Sylvain Lefebvre has stepped down as an assistant coach because he decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and, the team said, would not be able to perform his duties under NHL pandemic protocols.
Steve McCarthy, an assisant with the Blue Jackets’ American Hockey League affiliate in Cleveland, has been promoted to take Lefebvre’s position.
“While we are disappointed, we respect that this decision is a personal one for Sylvain and wish him well,” General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “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.”
In a news release, the team did not include a statement from Lefebvre. The 53-year-old joined the team earlier this year after Brad Larsen was promoted to head coach to replace John Tortorella. Lefebvre was previously an assistant with the minor-league San Diego Gulls. He played in the NHL as a defemseman from 1989 to 2003.
McCarthy, 40, has been with Cleveland for five seasons. He played in the NHL as a defenseman from 1999 to 2008.
“Steve has done a great job working with our young defensemen in Cleveland the past five years and is ready for this opportunity,” Larsen said. “He is a really bright, young coach with a great work ethic and I’m excited about what he will bring to our staff.”
Larsen’s first season as Blue Jackets coach begins in October.