NHL

Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson unable to get vaccinated, steps down

San Jose Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson, who is unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to an undisclosed medical reason, stepped down Friday.

NHL's COVID-19 rules prevent Calgary native from being on bench

Rocky Thompson has stepped down as associate coach with the Sharks because he is unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to an undisclosed medical reason. NHL rules prevent anyone not vaccinated from going within 12 feet of players. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press/File)

San Jose Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson, who is unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to an undisclosed medical reason, stepped down Friday.

"Under the new League protocols, I am not permitted to fulfill my duties on the Sharks coaching staff at this time," the Calgary native said in a statement. "I will have no further comment on this matter."

Under league rules, any person who goes within 12 feet of NHL players must be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Thompson was preparing for his second season on San Jose's coaching staff. The Sharks plan to name his replacement in the near future.

A hard-nosed enforcer during his playing career, Thompson was added to head coach Bob Boughner's staff in San Jose last September.

He spent the past three seasons as the head coach of the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves, the top affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights.

In 2015, Thompson succeeded Boughner as the head coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires, and he won the Memorial Cup in 2017.

Before his journey began with the Spitfires, Thompson was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers in 2014-15 after spending four seasons as an assistant coach with that city's AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons. 

With files from The Associated Press & CBC News

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