Dominique Ducharme was powerless. The interim head coach of the Montreal Canadiens was sitting at home, hours after testing positive for COVID-19, as his team battled in the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And all he could do was stand there and watch.
"It's difficult to describe," Ducharme stated during a virtual media availability on Sunday morning, despite the fact that he isn't suffering any symptoms. The Canadiens won a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series on Friday, with Ducharme staying at home and assistant Luke Richardson taking over as coach.
No Canadiens players had been added to the NHL's COVID-19 protocol list as of Saturday evening. The league started in a statement on Friday that all previous tests on Montreal players and staff had come back negative. The series is the NHL's first cross-border clash this season, made possible by a federal exception that allows clubs to avoid Canada's 14-day quarantine regulations.
Ducharme stated that learning he had contracted the coronavirus came as a huge surprise to him. The team received its second vaccine shot on June 9, therefore the positive test was six days before the two-week mark for being considered completely immunized. The NHL and the Quebec government According to COVID-19 protocols, Ducharme will be ineligible to return before the end of the third round — and potentially not until the Stanley Cup final if Montreal advances. However, Ducharme seemed to imply that the timing could shift.
The Canadiens landed in Vegas last week for games one and two, but they were only allowed to use their hotel, dining room, gym, and T-Mobile Arena. According to Ducharme, players and staff were not even permitted to go for a walk outside. "It's annoying because I've done everything they've requested us to do," said the 48-year-old, noting that no one in his family bubble has tested positive.