Alex Tuch has never played in a regular-season opener in the NHL, which made his absence from Golden Knights training camp Tuesday all the more alarming.
Unlike previous seasons, he doesn’t appear to be seriously injured this time.
Tuch did not participate in practice or the scrimmage at City National Arena, and coach Pete DeBoer said the right wing received a maintenance day.
”First day of camp, a little sore,” DeBoer said. “Nothing major, but enough that we don’t want to take any chances and push it.”
Tuch sustained a lower-body injury in the final preseason game in 2018 and missed the first eight games of the regular season.
Last season, he crashed into the end boards during a preseason game against Los Angeles and went on injured reserve with an upper-body injury that sidelined him for 13 games.
As a rookie, Tuch started the Knights’ inaugural season in the American Hockey League for salary cap purposes before being recalled for good.
Tuch overcame his injury-plagued 2019-20 season to lead the Knights with eight goals during the playoffs. He opened camp skating on the third line with center Cody Glass and wing Nicolas Roy.
Tuch’s absence allowed the coaching staff to look at other players during the scrimmage, and 28-year-old winger Tomas Jurco flashed his offensive talent.
“I thought Tomas Jurco looked great in the first two days of scrimmages,” DeBoer said.
Three Knights prospects played in the gold medal game of the World Junior Championship on Tuesday, with Peyton Krebs and Kaedan Korczak on Team Canada and Brendan Brisson a member of Team USA.
The tournament is always a hot topic in locker rooms during the holiday season, and this year was no different. Alec Martinez said he and defense partner Shea Theodore have a friendly bet on the outcome, with the winner getting a free dinner on the road.
“Granted, I don’t know how or when that’s really going to happen considering the season this year, but maybe it’ll be the first room service meal or something that he can buy me after the U.S. wins,” Martinez, originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan, said jokingly.
The Knights are divided into small groups for locker room access and had to wait for one to emerge before they could start the second practice session.
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Someone sounded the scoreboard horn several times as a signal to the players, and Mark Stone gave a sarcastic wave once he and the others in his group hit the ice.
“We weren’t late,” Stone insisted. “I guess the 11:15 practice started at 11:07 today. I didn’t get the memo.”