ESPN's Emily Kaplan reported Thursday that the NHL had informed teams of health and safety protocols for the 2021-22 season that will be held during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic at a time when safe vaccine shots are available to every player and employee. One of the guidelines states that anybody with a job that requires being within 12 feet of players must be vaccinated against the coronavirus to participate in the campaign.
As an apparent reaction to the 27-page document shared on the NHL website Friday, San Jose Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson announced he is stepping away from his role with the organization.
"Due to a medical exemption that prevents me from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, under the new League protocols, I am not permitted to fulfill my duties on the Sharks coaching staff at this time," Thompson explained in a prepared statement. "I will have no further comment on this matter."
The Sharks added they will announce Thompson's replacement soon.
ESPN notes Thompson previously coached in the Ontario Hockey League and American Hockey League before joining the Sharks as an associate coach in September 2020. The hope is he'll have to miss only one season before resuming a promising coaching career.