Updated February 24, 2021 - 4:42 pm
To steal a phrase from Jim Carr, the radio broadcaster in the movie “Slap Shot,” the Golden Knights were real thirsty for a big, grudge-match-type victory over San Jose on Thursday.
They never got the chance.
The NHL announced Wednesday that the game scheduled to take place at SAP Center in San Jose, California, was postponed after a Sharks player entered NHL COVID protocol. No makeup date was set.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 24, 2021
San Jose forward Tomas Hertl was included Wednesday afternoon on the NHL’s COVID protocol-related absences list.
“Despite having only one player currently impacted, the decision to cancel the team’s practice and training activities on Wednesday and postpone the game on Thursday was made out of an abundance of caution,” the Sharks said in a statement.
The Sharks canceled their practice Wednesday morning at Solar4America Ice in San Jose without an explanation, and their practice facility was closed.
The Knights practiced at City National Arena, and coach Pete DeBoer said during his media availability the team would proceed as if the game was taking place as scheduled.
Shortly after the media availability concluded, the league announced the postponement. The Knights will practice Thursday at City National Arena instead.
There was no schedule change for the Knights’ game at Anaheim on Saturday. The Ducks had no players in NHL protocol Wednesday.
The much-anticipated game Thursday was to be the first between the rivals since the Knights’ heated 3-1 victory Feb. 13. That matchup featured at least two incidents that didn’t sit well in either locker room.
Early in the second period, Jonathan Marchessault smashed Sharks defenseman Radim Simek into the boards in retaliation for Reilly Smith getting dumped moments earlier. Marchessault later followed up with a cross-check that wasn’t penalized.
Sharks coach Bob Boughner was just as upset with the referees as he was with his team for not confronting Marchessault after the play. Simek remains on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
“I didn’t think anything of the incident when it happened and unfortunate that (Simek) got hurt,” DeBoer said Wednesday. “But obviously player safety looked at it, didn’t deem anything illegal there. The refs on the ice didn’t deem anything illegal. Somebody’s trying to create something out of nothing.”
Near the end of the game two weeks ago, Smith and Sharks forward Evander Kane wrestled each other to the ice. After the game on a postgame TV interview, Knights forward Alex Tuch warned Kane better be “looking over his shoulder” the next time the teams faced off.
“Obviously, this is a big rivalry,” defenseman Alec Martinez said. “Guys want to win. Guys are emotional. If you’re not playing with emotion, then you’re probably not playing very well.”
The Knights are supposed to visit San Jose for a back to back March 5 and 6, and the league will probably need to rearrange the schedule to fit in the makeup game.
That will be tough because the Knights are scheduled to play 39 games in 70 days not counting the postponed one against the Sharks.
This is the second time the game against San Jose has been rescheduled. The teams were originally supposed to meet Feb. 3, and the game was moved from San Jose to Arizona before it was postponed when the Knights had three coaches and two players enter NHL COVID protocol.