It won’t have been as apparent as a participant lacking from the bench and all of the area that it creates, however the Canadiens have been with out a key element for Video games 1 and a couple of of their Stanley Cup Closing towards the Lightning. Head coach Dominique Ducharme was out as a result of a required COVID-19 quarantine, however he’s anticipated to be again for Recreation 3 on Friday together with his group trailing 2-0.
“So far as I do know he’ll be again within the constructing very first thing tomorrow with the group, able to go, identical to he was proper earlier than he left,” assistant coach Luke Richardson mentioned Thursday.
It was revealed June 19 that Ducharme examined constructive for COVID-19. He has missed each Canadiens recreation since, starting with Recreation 3 of the semifinals towards the Golden Knights.
“Being vaccinated twice, the possibilities are actually slim,” Ducharme advised reporters on June 20. “I actually wasn’t fortunate on this one. . . . It is irritating as a result of I have been doing every little thing they requested us to do. I by no means uncovered myself.”
Ducharme had each doses however was nonetheless throughout the two-week window earlier than changing into absolutely vaccinated. He was simply eight days faraway from getting his second jab.
“I do know personally it will be killing [me] inside to overlook the grandest ball of all of them, and that’s the Stanley Cup Closing,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper mentioned earlier than Recreation 2, including: “This can be a time you must get pleasure from, and for him to have a group be within the remaining and never be a part of it, I really feel for him, even when he is the competitors.”
Richardson assumed the highest spot and led the group to a 4-2 collection win towards the Golden Knights. He alos took the lead within the first two video games of the ultimate. Richardson performed 27 video games for the Lightning in 2006-07. Ducharme advised reporters after the semifinals ended that he has been watching video games together with his girlfriend and that in intermissions he speaks to his employees for a couple of minutes — identical to he would if he was there in particular person.
“We’ve all the time labored collectively, and that’s what we’re persevering with to do,” he mentioned. “Luke, we talked, and he’s a group man, he’s the type of teammate you need to have with you dealing with it doesn’t matter what problem. Everybody’s taking part in their position and dealing collectively. What we’re doing in the present day is making ready the group in the identical means we did for the opposite collection. It’s simply that I’m doing it through video with the gamers.”
“Yeah, he is on Zoom. He is concerned within the conferences,” defenseman Jon Merrill mentioned earlier than Recreation 2. “He is concerned within the course of. Not clearly as a lot as he was earlier than he received struck with COVID, however he is undoubtedly nonetheless an enormous a part of this group and we sit up for seeing him once we get again to Montreal.”
Now Ducharme is predicted again for Recreation 3, which is scheduled for Friday in Montreal, and will present a much-needed shot within the arm for the group.
“I feel it is going to be large,” veteran Eric Staal mentioned Thursday. “I do know it’s received to be killing Dom for the final two weeks simply lacking our group and lacking the every day actions of what we do and making ready. He’s no totally different than us as gamers and I’m certain the remainder of the employees . . . you dream and you’re employed your complete life to be in a Stanley Cup Closing. For him to overlook the primary two, it’s been powerful however I do know he’s been with us by way of the Zoom and all of the pre-scout stuff and doing conferences that means. However to be with us in particular person shall be large for us. Now we’re wanting ahead to it.”
Montreal ahead Joel Armia was additionally in COVID-19 protocols over the previous weekend. Armia, who usually slots in on the fourth line, was separated from the group however cleared Monday. He flew to Tampa that day on a personal airplane and skated in warmups for Recreation 1 however didn’t take line rushes and was scratched. Montreal misplaced the opener 5-1. He got here again into the lineup for Recreation 2 on Wednesday, which the Canadiens misplaced 3-1.