Blue Jackets replace assistant coach who chose not to get COVID vaccine

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Monday that they have replaced assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre after he refused to get a vaccine shot for COVID-19.

Lefebvre was brought on by Brad Larsen after he was named head coach in June.

The team announced that it has promoted Steve McCarthy from the Cleveland Monsters to replace Lefebvre, whose decision runs afoul of new NHL protocols.

“Steve has done a great job working with our young defensemen in Cleveland the past five years and is ready for this opportunity,” said 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.”

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Blue Jackets assistant coach declines vaccine

“While we are disappointed, we respect that this decision is a personal one for Sylvain and wish him well,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in statement. “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, was a defenseman in the NHL for eight years, finishing with 55 points for three different teams from 1999-2008. He was taken No. 23 overall by Chicago in the 1999 draft.

McCarthy has spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach with Cleveland, Columbus’ American Hockey League affiliate.

Lefebvre, 53, played 14 years in the NHL, finishing with 184 points in 945 games for four teams.

–Field Level Media