Updated January 26, 2021 - 11:34 pm
And here I thought if there ever came a time for the Golden Knights’ coaching staff to be self-isolated, it would have been the result of league discipline for wearing those awful gold track suits to practice.
As it is, Pete DeBoer and his assistants were kept away from Tuesday night’s game against St. Louis at T-Mobile Arena because of COVID-19 protocols. There was an exposure on the staff when a member tested positive.
Welcome to the bench, then, the pride of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Kelly McCrimmon traded in his general manager’s hat and assumed head coaching duties in a game the Knights would drop 5-4 in a shootout.
He spent 26 seasons with the Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, holding roles from owner to general manager to head coach and more.
Translation: He knew his way to the ice.
AHL coaches arrive
“Usually, when you get a point at home, you don’t call it a good point,” McCrimmon said. “But when you’re down (4-2) in the third period, you do.”
Still, it was strange. McCrimmon was joined by the coaching staff of the American Hockey League’s Silver Knights. I can’t be certain, but I wouldn’t put it past much of anything that few Golden Knights players knew much about them before Tuesday.
In fact, the AHL coaches were situated at the same viewing level of the unanimously scorned (um, us in the media) during training camp. There’s no way such folks are considered overly important when they’re anywhere near such a contingent of nonhockey experts.
Some players might have recognized Silver Knights assistant coach Joel Ward, who played 10 seasons in the NHL and was with San Jose during the Vegas expansion season in 2017. Which only means he fell a year short of a major penalty and allowing four power-play goals in just 4:01. I digress …
The game had all the makings of what we have come to know from the Knights and Blues, which is borderline chaotic. Vegas outshot St. Louis 46-25 and still lost. Things were wide open much of the night. Not much neutralizing in the defensive zone for long stretches.
Posts were hit … and hit … and hit. The Knights also forgot how to count, twice being assessed minors for too many men on the ice. David Perron scored twice for the Blues, obviously seeing McCrimmon on the bench and still smarting from management’s decision to allow him to walk after the expansion season.
Although something tells me the Stanley Cup he won with the Blues made up for it.
“It’s different watching from the bench,” McCrimmon said. “That’s something I’m well aware of having coached in the past. To be honest, I’d be curious to know what this game looked like from above where I usually sit. On the bench, I thought the players had great energy. They were fully invested.”
The Knights will close their facility Wednesday as they try to get any COVID issues under control.
It’s a good sign that no players tested positive, meaning the idea of Thursday’s home game against St. Louis being postponed likely isn’t an option right now.
“I think our staff and players have done the best job that we can to limit exposure, make sure we mask up when we’re around each other,” said Knights forward Max Pacioretty, who notched his seventh career hat trick. “We take this very seriously and almost take pride in the fact that we’re trying to do whatever we can to limit exposure.
“It was a bit of a shock to hear (about the coaching situation) because of how hard we’re working, but it’s just something you can’t control. We hope we’ve done a good enough job to limit that, but I guess we’ll see what happens the next couple days.”
What’s needed now: Someone to sacrifice those gold track suits.
Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.