Following up on the positive COVID-19 test of Montreal Canadiens interim head coach Dominique Ducharme, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston was the first to report that Ducharme will indeed miss the next two weeks as a result. Although the NHL has relaxed many rules pertaining to its COVID Protocol, a positive test still warrants a 14-day isolation period. Especially when the Canadiens were fortunate enough to not have any other positive tests among its players and staff, the league wants to maintain the health and safety of the team as well as the integrity of its semifinals. With that said, losing Ducharme is a blow for Montreal. The interim coach has led the team on an unexpectedly triumphant playoff run as the mid-season interim replacement for Claude Julien. The Habs will now lean on an interim interim head coach in assistant Luke Richardson, who coached the team to a Game Three win. Assuming Ducharme’s 14-day isolation began on Friday when the positive test was discovered, the earliest he can return to the bench would be Friday, July 2nd. Montreal’s semifinal series with the Vegas Golden Knights, if it even goes seven games, will end on Saturday, June 26th, nearly a week before Ducharme ends his isolation. Richardson and the Canadiens will need to string together a couple more semifinal wins and potentially even a Stanley Cup Final win or two if Ducharme is to coach again this season. It’s terrible luck for Ducharme, who had received both doses of his vaccination and told the media this morning that contact tracing has been unable to determine how he might have contracted the virus as he did not break any protocol.
- Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis keeps things notoriously close to the vest and his ongoing coaching search is no different. Other than Rick Tocchet, who has interviewed for a number of vacancies so far making his bid for Seattle’s inaugural head coach role more public, there is not much known about who else may be a finalist for the job. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Francis brought a few candidates to Seattle this week for in-person interviews, but could only confirm Tocchet as one – his third interview for the position. Friedman speculates that recently fired New York Rangers head coach David Quinn, Boston Bruins assistant Joe Sacco, and University of Wisconsin Tony Granato could be the other names in the mix. Tocchet certainly seems like the favorite at this point, but don’t be shocked if Francis ends up making a surprise hire.
- Friedman also notes that other NHL teams are interested in Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coaches and have requested permission to speak with them. Friedman does not name any coaches in particular, but of their group of assistants former head coaches Dave Hakstol and Paul MacLean could certainly be drawing interest, as could up-and-comer Manny Malhotra. At this time, the Maple Leafs have not made any decisions on if they will allow their assistants to explore these opportunities, especially since they are likely to be lateral moves.