Montreal Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said on Sunday he felt good and wished he could be with his team after testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday.
Ducharme said he didn’t know how he tested positive and didn’t know when he might come back. Assistant coach Luke Richardson led the Montreal bench in Game 3 of the NHL semi-final against the Golden Knights on Friday.
No Canadiens or Knights player has appeared on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol absences list since Ducharme tested positive. He said no one around him had tested positive.
Ducharme, who received the second dose of the vaccine but did not achieve fully immunized status, said he chatted with other Habs coaches a few times a day and spoke with his players once a day. He had a Zoom meeting with the squad on Saturday and plans to do another before Game 4 on Sunday.
“It’s hard to describe,” said Ducharme. “You feel helpless. It’s just watching, hoping for the best. It is a strange situation. I have never experienced this. The last time I watched Canadiens on TV was probably three or four years ago. A bit of a special situation, but it’s been a special year. We’ve been through a lot and we’re going to get through it. “
Knights coach Pete DeBoer can understand Ducharme’s situation. He must have watched his team lose 5-4 in a shootout against the St. Louis Blues at home as he and his coaching staff went into isolation. General manager Kelly McCrimmon led the bench with help from the Silver Knights coaches.
“It’s a feeling of helplessness to be sitting there,” DeBoer said. “I wish him the best and I’m glad it’s in my rearview mirror.”
Bell Center atmosphere
The announced attendance of 3,500 people at the Bell Center for Friday’s Game 3 is not what the Knights are used to. They have always loved the atmosphere, even though it was the smallest crowd they had ever encountered in the playoffs.
“There’s a lot of energy,” said left winger William Carrier, who was born in nearby LaSalle, Que. “It’s a lot more fun playing in this kind of building than playing in the bubble.”