Peter DeBoer will coach for the Vegas Golden Knights against the Los Angeles Kings at T-Mobile Arena on Friday (10 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, ATTSN-RM, KCOP-13, NHL.TV) after he was removed from NHL COVID-19 protocol.
“I think in 12 years (of coaching in the NHL), I’ve maybe missed a couple games, two that I can think of, and so you’re just not used to it,” DeBoer said. “You’re not used to that perspective, particularly during the regular season. You know, I’m sure it’s a lot like a player getting an injury. You feel like you’re letting the group down not being there.”
DeBoer returned to practice Friday after spending 10 days in quarantine. He along with defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and two assistants were absent Wednesday when the Golden Knights practiced for the first time since their facilities were closed Jan. 27 under NHL COVID-19 protocol. Assistant Ryan Craig returned Thursday, but assistant Ryan McGill remained off the ice.
Pietrangelo, who remains in protocol and has been unavailable since Jan. 28, will not play Friday. He has scored four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games and leads the Golden Knights in time on ice per game (25:37).
“I spoke to him during the last 10 days or week, and from everything I’ve heard, he feels great, pretty much asymptomatic,” DeBoer said. “So that’s the good news with what’s going on with him, and until he gets back, it’s an opportunity. We’ve got the luxury of having [Nick] Holden there, who’s a veteran guy. We know that’s going to be a seamless transition.
“We knew this was going to test our depth, what we’ve gone through here. We knew it was just a matter of time, and sure enough, it’s arrived, and I’m excited about the guys going in.”
General manager Kelly McCrimmon coached the Golden Knights, assisted by the staff of Henderson of the American Hockey League, in a 5-4 shootout loss at home against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 26 after the Vegas staff could not coach under the protocol. McCrimmon said after the game that a coach had tested positive.
The Vegas facilities were closed the next day. The Golden Knights were supposed to play the Blues at T-Mobile Arena again the following day, but the NHL announced the game was postponed and the facilities would remain closed after a player and another member of the staff entered the protocol. Pietrangelo then was listed as unavailable.
The NHL announced Jan. 29 that Vegas games against the San Jose Sharks scheduled for Monday and Wednesday were postponed, the facilities would remain closed, and four members of the Golden Knights, including three coaches, were being isolated.
“With this break, there are definitely pros and cons to it,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. “I think not being on the ice for that time is tough, but I think we’re mentally fresh. I think we’re definitely a little bit recharged, and we’re ready for that challenge. I think with tonight, coming back in, playing a team that’s been playing hockey, I think we have to keep it very simple. We have to try to find our game early and stick to that.”
NHL.com columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika contributed to this report