The Vegas Golden Knights game against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday remains scheduled after Vegas forward Tomas Nosek was pulled from their game Tuesday due to a positive test for COVID-19.
Nosek did not play the third period of a 5-4 win at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Immediately upon notification that one of its players had returned a positive test for COVID-19, Vegas Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek was removed from Tuesday night’s game vs. Anaheim, in precise accordance with the terms of the League’s COVID protocol,” the NHL said in a statement Wednesday. “Nosek was immediately isolated from his teammates and close contact tracing was begun, also in accordance with the protocol.”
It was Vegas’ third game after they had three postponed due to protocol that included coach Peter DeBoer and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo being away from the team. Vegas had not played since Jan. 26 until returning Friday; Pietrangelo has not played in the latest three games but is no longer on the protocol list.
The Golden Knights did not practice nor have media availability Wednesday. The Ducks did practice at T-Mobile Arena.
“Was it a topic of conversation last night and this morning? Well, of course it was,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said. “The first one was concern for the other team. For the young man that got pulled, for the team, and their team has had some problems in the past. … And the first one is general human nature is your concern. Is he OK? Are their other guys OK? How’s that all going?
“And then, obviously, the second one turns to our own team, but our guys, after our general manager, Bob Murray, is all over this stuff. He had spoken to the League. The League talked to the [NHL Players’ Association] doctors, and League doctors, and everybody’s on board. …
“Our staff and players felt nothing but safe and we got back to work this afternoon. I’d be concerned if it were not a topic. If it’s not a topic, that’s when you see teams take it haphazardly and not care as much.”
The NHL said rapid PCR point of care tests will be administered to all players and staff for Vegas and Anaheim prior to the game Thursday in Las Vegas.
“We have full faith in these protocols,” Eakins said. “These protocols are ever-changing. Like, this is unchartered territory. The one thing I do have great trust in is the League is doing their best to really protect our players, our coaches, our managers, everyone, and it’s ever-adopting. You’ve already seen adaptations to the protocols, change in the dressing room, getting the guys even further apart, getting these meetings spread out outside, do them virtually. It’s never-ending, but it’s necessary …”
The NHL has postponed 34 games this season, 25 in February. It adopted additional COVID-19 preventative measures Feb. 4.
“We all understand how diligent the League is on this,” Eakins said. “We’re staying diligent within our group, and all we can do is hope the other teams that we’re playing against are doing their best too.
“I know you hear the phrase, ‘We’re all in this together.’ Well, we are, and it’s no different when you’re on the ice. Guy’s got his back turned, he’s in a vulnerable position. Man, you don’t want to bury that guy. You’ve got to look after the other team sometimes, and we’re just hopeful that every team in this league is doing their best, not only to protect themselves, but to protect the other team.”
Defenseman Ben Hutton is the only Ducks player to appear on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list, only on Jan. 16.
“We certainly do aspire to be the team that [COVID-19] doesn’t get into our room,” Eakins said. “Can we 100 percent prevent that? No. But we can do our best to be that team.”
NHL.com independent correspondent Dan Arritt contributed to this report