The biggest Canadiens – Golden Knights Game 3 lineup note has nothing to do with centers. Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme tested positive for COVID on Friday, so he will likely need to isolate for at least 10 days. Due to that positive COVID test, Ducharme will miss time in the Golden Knights – Canadiens series, starting with Game 3 (8 p.m. ET; USA Network / Peacock).
If there’s a Game 7 in this series, it would take place on Saturday, June 26. So it’s unclear if Ducharme would be available for the remainder of the Golden Knights – Canadiens series.
Crucially, the NHL announced that other Golden Knights and Canadiens players, coaches, and hockey staff COVID tests “returned uniformly negative results” before Game 3.
No players from the Canadiens or Golden Knights are on today's updated Covid protocol list. Note, staff is not ever listed on there. @Sportsnet
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) June 18, 2021
Here’s the official statement from the NHL:
“This morning, we became aware that a test administered yesterday in Las Vegas on Montreal Canadiens Head Coach Dominique Ducharme indicated a presumptive positive result for the COVID-19 virus that was confirmed on further testing today. Coach Ducharme has been partially vaccinated with his second shot administered less than two weeks ago, on June 9. Per NHL COVID Protocols, Coach Ducharme was immediately isolated from the team. All tests administered to the Players, other coaches and hockey staff from both yesterday and today have returned uniformly negative results. The Canadiens organization has, and will continue to follow, all guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of its Players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, the Canadian Federal Government, the Quebec Provincial Government, and national and provincial health agencies.”
Canadiens head coach Ducharme tests positive for COVID
Ducharme received two COVID vaccine doses, with his most recent dose occurring on June 9, as the league release confirmed.
Ducharme is 48 years old.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin confirmed that Luke Richardson will run the Canadiens’ bench for Game 3.
There will be no in game contact between Luke Richardson and Dominique Ducharme, Marc Bergevin says. But Ducharme is feeling well and will be involved in game planning for Game 4 and was involved in formulating the game plan for tonight.
— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) June 18, 2021
Earlier in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Jared Bednar was eventually cleared to coach the Avalanche in Game 6 of their Second Round series vs. the Golden Knights after a COVID testing irregularity earlier that day.
As you may remember, the Canadiens’ coaching staff received a disruption during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, too, only it wasn’t COVID-related. Claude Julien underwent heart surgery during last year’s postseason, making way for Kirk Muller. (The Canadiens fired Julien and Muller in late February, inserting Ducharme as Julien’s in-season replacement.)
CANADIENS VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (Series tied 1-1) – series livestream link
Game 1: Golden Knights 4, Canadiens 1
Game 2: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2
Game 3: Fri. June 18: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network / Peacock)
Game 4: Sun. June 20: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
Game 5: Tues. June 22: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 9 p.m ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 6: Thurs. June 24: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network / Peacock)
*Game 7: Sat. June 26: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 8 p.m ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
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.