Coronavirus

Dallas Stars coach Rick Bowness pulled midgame due to COVID-19 protocols

Dallas Stars coach Rick Bowness was pulled from the bench after the second period of Sunday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes due to COVID-19 protocols.

Bowness, 66, is the oldest head coach in the league. He is fully vaccinated, the team said. Assistant coach John Stevens assumed head-coaching responsibilities for the rest of Sunday’s game, which Dallas lost 1-0.

General manager Jim Nill said afterward that the team believes it was a false positive test result for the virus, and that Bowness is not experiencing any symptoms.

“He was a very low grade, but it is still positive,” Nill said. “Out of safety concerns, he was pulled. But yes he has been vaccinated. His first vaccination was back sometime in January. He’s had both vaccinations.”

Nill said the team was in contact with the league office and that each side agreed to take Bowness out of the game as a precaution.

“Everybody decided this was the right situation because of Rick’s situation, that he is a low risk, and because of the grade of the test,” Nill said.

The result came back during the second-period intermission, which is why Bowness was pulled midgame. No other Stars staff member tested positive.

The Stars had a coronavirus outbreak in training camp after 17 members of the team tested positive, which delayed the start of their season. Entering Sunday, Dallas goaltender Anton Khudobin was the only Stars player on the NHL’s COVID protocol list, with what the team also believes was a false positive.

“He came back negative, so same situation,” Nill said. “He was a real weak positive test and went through his two protocol and he had two negatives and he is now cleared to travel with the team.”

According to Nill, most of the team and its traveling party have been vaccinated, or were previously infected with COVID-19. Khudobin was among the Stars players who contracted the virus in the offseason.

The NHL is currently dealing with another outbreak in the North Division. More than half of the Vancouver Canucks roster tested positive in the past week, as the team remains on pause. Sources told ESPN that some Canucks players are symptomatic, including at least one player who required an IV for dehydration over the weekend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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