Jared Bednar was cleared to coach the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 of their second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights after missing the morning skate Thursday because of a COVID-19 testing irregularity.
An Avalanche spokesman confirmed Bednar will be behind the bench in Las Vegas after the matter was resolved. Bednar was not at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday morning because of the coronavirus testing snafu.
Forward Joonas Donskoi was confident Bednar would be back.
“We’ve been talking about things we have to get better at for a long time,” Donskoi said. “I think last game was a pretty good game from us, so we’re just looking to build and get a win.”
Defenseman Devon Toews said the rest of the coaching staff ran the team's game-day practice and bristled at questions about Bednar's potential absence for the most important game of the season.
“It was pretty much business as usual,” Toews said. “There’s nothing to it, guys, in that standpoint. We come to the rink, we prepare for the game tonight. If we have Jared, we have Jared. If we don’t, we’ll prepare for that, as well. We’re ready to go as a group and we’re excited for the challenge.”
This is not the first time the NHL playoffs has gotten a virus testing scare. A laboratory error caused multiple false positives for the Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues during the first round, though an investigation ensured all players involved didn't miss a game.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly earlier in the playoffs said nine of the 12 U.S.-based playoff teams had reached the fully vaccinated threshold of 85% of the traveling party to qualify for relaxed protocols. The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning are the only team of the four left in the U.S. to confirm full vaccination.
The Montreal Canadiens are close to joining them after players got their second vaccine doses Wednesday.
Montreal will face the winner of the Vegas-Colorado series, with Tampa Bay going up against the New York Islanders in the third round for a second consecutive year.
Vegas coach Peter DeBoer missed time earlier in the season while in league protocol.
“I think in 12 years (as an NHL coach), I’ve maybe missed a couple games, two that I can think of, and so you’re just not used to it,” DeBoer said at the time. “You’re not used to that perspective, particularly during the regular season. I’m sure it’s a lot like a player getting an injury. You feel like you’re letting the group down not being there.”
AP Sports Writer Pat Graham in Denver and freelance reporter W.G. Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
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