Blue Jackets fire assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre over COVID-19 vaccination refusal

The Columbus Blue Jackets said Monday they are replacing assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre, who declined to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Former NHL defenceman Steve McCarthy has been added to head coach Brad Larsen's staff.

NHL team promotes Steve McCarthy, who was on bench of AHL club in Cleveland

Sylvain Lefebvre has been replaced as Blue Jackets assistant coach by ex-NHL blue-liner Steve McCarthy because he opted not to get a COVID-19 vaccine. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images/File)

The Columbus Blue Jackets said Monday that the team has replaced an assistant coach who declined to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Sylvain Lefebvre was replaced on coach Brad Larsen's staff by Steve McCarthy because "Lefebvre has decided not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and thus will not be able to perform the duties required of him given current NHL protocols," according to a team statement.

NHL coaches and other team staff who closely interact with players are required to be fully vaccinated.

"While we are disappointed, we respect that this decision is a personal one for Sylvain and wish him well," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said of Lefebvre, a former longtime coach in the American Hockey League.

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The ex-NHL defenceman, who played a combined five seasons with Montreal and Toronto during a 14-year career, was added to the staff in July by Larsen, the former Blue Jackets assistant who replaced the fired John Tortorella.

McCarthy is a one-time NHL blue-liner who was promoted from the Cleveland Monsters, the team's AHL affiliate, for which he was an assistant coach.

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

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