COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Monday Steve McCarthy has been promoted to replace Sylvain Lefebvre as a Blue Jackets assistant coach, citing Lefebvre’s declination of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The move comes after the NHL announced earlier this month that staff members who are regularly in close contact with players are required to be fully vaccinated.
The NHL noted that because of the league’s footprint, there is frequent travel across the U.S. and Canada border. While the NHL’s protocols don’t specifically mandate players to become vaccinated, the league said it reserves the right to suspend players without pay who are barred from playing due to vaccination status.
The Canadian government requires those crossing the border to quarantine for 14 days if they have not been fully vaccinated.
Lefebvre was just hired to the Blue Jackets staff in July.
“While we are disappointed, we respect that this decision is a personal one for Sylvain and wish him well,” said club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen. “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.”
With Lefebvre’s departure, McCarthy will leave Cleveland’s bench. McCarthy spent five years behind the Monsters’ bench after finishing his playing career in Cleveland with the squad that won the 2016 Calder Cup.
The Monsters are the Blue Jackets' top minor league affiliate.
“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.”