An assistant coach on the Vegas Golden Knights staff tested positive for COVID-19, leading to Pete DeBoer and his staff to self-isolate for Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues, general manager Kelly McCrimmon confirmed.
McCrimmon served as the acting head coach in Vegas’ 5-4 shootout loss on Tuesday. Members of the Henderson Silver Knights staff served as assistants.
“We had an exposure on our coaching staff, so the best way to handle that is to isolate the entire staff. It’s not a case where the entire staff tested positive,” McCrimmon said after the game. Most that didn’t, quite frankly, but the protocol is such that you pull those people from the group. But fortunately there’s been no positive tests for players. Based on how the day unfolded, we took the steps that we did to best prepare our team to play tonight.”
The Golden Knights will close City National Arena tomorrow as a precaution. McCrimmon does not expect the rematch Thursday against the Blues to be impacted.
“That’s more just to let another day go thorugh the system to assess where we are and what the next steps might be. I don’t know what those are at this point,” McCrimmon said. “These things, there’s a process that you follow. As more information is available, you make further decisions.”
McCrimmon served as coach during his time as owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL.
Silver Knights coach Manny Vivieros was on the bench, but McCrimmon didn’t feel it was fair to throw his newly-hired AHL coach into the fray at the NHL level.
“I would have the best familiarity with the players, so I think that probably – and I’ve coached in the past – so I think probably those would have been … That would have been the thought process,” McCrimmon said.
The Golden Knights played admirably down their coach. Max Pacioretty had a hat trick and Vegas rallied from two goals down in the third to earn a point. Former Golden Knight forward David Perron scored twice in the first period and the Blues took a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
Pacioretty said that even without DeBoer, the Golden Knights kept things simple for the most part.
“We have such good structure on this team that it doesn’t change much other than everyone being on the same page and the different voice behind the bench,” said Vegas’ leading goal scorer. “We all take pride in our systems. We work on them on a daily basis, whether it’s during practice or on video. So just being able to touch up some things here and there is important, but that being said, we’re a very structured team, so that helps in a situation like this.”
The Golden Knights just returned from their first road trip of the season, to Glendale, Arizona, against the Arizona Coyotes.
Despite all of the hoopla prior, it was a game the Golden Knights should have won. They out shot St. Louis 46-25 on goal and 83-48 in attempts. Even though Vegas got the point and should feel good given the situation, McCrimmon probably wanted the 1-0 on his coaching ledger.
“He knows how to coach. He’s coached plenty of hockey games in his life and had a lot of help. They had the Henderson staff up here. They did a great job,” said captain Mark Stone. “Kind of kept it simple for a bit, but he cares about winning. I’m sure that’s all he had in his mind behind the bench tonight.”