The Vegas Golden Knights announced that their coach staff — Peter DeBoer included — are in self-quarantine due to COVID protocols, and won’t be on the bench for Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues. Instead, GM Kelly McCrimmon will coach the Golden Knights for at least the Blues game as the franchise practices (you might have guessed it) an “abundance of caution” regarding COVID-19.
Coaching staff members of the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate Henderson Silver Knights will join McCrimmon on the bench.
More on Golden Knights coaches missing at least one game due to COVID protocol
Update from the Golden Knights 👇#VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/CCiotChPqD
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 26, 2021
It’s unclear if the Golden Knights’ coaches will continue to quarantine after this game. The Golden Knights’ next game also takes place against the Blues on Thursday.
From a safety standpoint, there might be some logic to waiting at least two games. After Thursday’s game against the Blues, the Golden Knights don’t play again until Monday, Feb. 1 vs. the Sharks.
(You know, if the caution is in abundance, rather than [just throwing it out there] at the exact minimum level.)
TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that it’s possible that some, if not all, of the Golden Knights’ coaching staff may return by Thursday. Ultimately, we’ll see.
It also remains to be seen if this COVID quarantine extends beyond Golden Knights coaches to players. The Athletic’s Jesse Granger notes that DeBoer had been around Golden Knights players as recently as Tuesday.
Waiting for the team to confirm, but this would be a pretty wild development.
We don’t have any details as to what happened yet, but Peter DeBoer did morning availability like normal this morning, and he and his staff were on the ice with the entire team yesterday at CNA. https://t.co/y7RbyvVmWH
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) January 26, 2021
Should NHL keep a closer eye on coaches?
If you’re like me, you’re rankled whenever you see a coach lower their mask to yell at players, complain about officiating, or call for line changes. (You know, coaching stuff.)
On one hand, yes, it’s understandable that coaches want to get their points across. Players who turned the puck over might not cower as much from a muffled scream.
Still, what’s the situation where your saliva flies the most? When you’re yelling, right? (OK, maybe not as much as when you’re coughing but …)
In iso cams alone, we’ve seen coaches who wore their masks in very … cavalier ways. DeBoer himself chafed a bit at wearing a mask, at least early on:
WEARING A MASK: "The mask thing is tough," DeBoer on wearing a mask behind the bench this season.
"I really felt for Jon Gruden… he's battled with that the entire season. I can feel his pain" #8NN #VGK pic.twitter.com/FpU12NyaC3
— 8 News NOW (@8NewsNow) January 4, 2021
It’s good PR speak to claim that NHL teams are approaching all of this with an “abundance of caution.” Actions speak louder than words, though, and there are areas where it’s fair to wonder if there’s been an absence of caution.
(Was there even much of a discussion about modified helmets for greater coverage, whether that would come down to some form of face-shields or not?)
Here’s hoping every that the Golden Knights’ coaches avoid major complications related to COVID. With NHL coaches, it’s especially scary, considering how many are in at-risk age groups. DeBoer’s 52, so he’s not among those facing the biggest risks. (McCrimmon is 60.)
Of course, COVID doesn’t just affect one age group, and professional athletes face risks too.
Hopefully Golden Knights coaches enjoy an abundance of good fortune to go with all of that caution.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.