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Golden Knights could get boost from NHL’s COVID protocol change

Updated December 29, 2021 - 5:03 pm

The Golden Knights could get some unexpected reinforcement for Friday’s game against Anaheim.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced changes to their COVID-19 protocol Wednesday that allow fully vaccinated personnel to return in five days rather than 10 after testing positive if certain conditions are met. The shift, which follows recent updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, means defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and right wing Evgenii Dadonov could be available Friday after entering the protocol Dec. 21.

It also could allow coach Pete DeBoer and center Brett Howden to rejoin the Knights sooner after they entered the protocol Monday.

Assistant coach Steve Spott, who filled in for DeBoer during Tuesday’s 6-3 win in Los Angeles, said he would talk to general manager Kelly McCrimmon and DeBoer about how the change could affect the team.

According to the updated protocol, players and staff that test positive must isolate for five days. They must continue isolating if they have a fever. If they have no symptoms or their symptoms are gone after five days, they can return to practices and games if they test negative and are cleared by the team physician.

The shortened isolation and quarantine period mirrors changes the NFL made with its COVID-19 rules Tuesday.

“It’s good, kind of following what some of the guidelines (have been) set for us,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. “Having five days is good.”

Pietrangelo and Dadonov have missed the past two games after entering the protocol. DeBoer and Howden sat out Tuesday.

The Knights, who are fully vaccinated, also have had left wings Mattias Janmark, William Carrier and Jonathan Marchessault, center William Karlsson and right wing Michael Amadio enter the protocol this season. Even with those absences — and numerous injuries to key players — they entered Wednesday’s games with the most points in the Western Conference with 42.

“We’re missing a lot of guys right now,” Marchessault. “Good teams just find a way to win the hockey game. That’s what we’re doing.”

Getting players back sooner could help the NHL keep its season on track despite numerous COVID-19 disruptions. The league has postponed 80 games because of the virus, forcing the NHL and NHLPA to withdraw from the Winter Olympics to give themselves more time to make up games.

Theodore, who would have drawn strong consideration from Team Canada, said it was “definitely a little disappointing” that the league wasn’t going. He said he probably would have gone despite concerns about the restrictions in Beijing.

“The big debate was the quarantine rules in China,” Theodore said, “but anytime you’re asked to go, you would be hard-pressed not to go.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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