Not only goalies wear masks: NHL coaches must cover faces

  • Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour conducts drills during NHL hockey training camp in Morrisville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) Gerry Broome

  • Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville works with Panthers left wing Grigori Denisenko (14) during training camp in preparation for the 2021 NHL season Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP) David Santiago

  • Dallas Stars head coach Rick Bowness picks up pucks between drills during NHL hockey training camp practice Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) LM Otero

  • St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube instructs his team during NHL hockey training camp Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Maryland Heights, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) Jeff Roberson

  • Calgary Flames head coach Geoff Ward wears a mask during NHL hockey practice in Calgary, Alberta, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) Jeff McIntosh

  • Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault watches his players during NHL hockey practice, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Voorhees, N.J. (Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) Yong Kim

  • Chicago Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton sets up a drill during an NHL hockey training camp practice Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Charles Rex Arbogast

  • Montreal Canadiens Josh Anderson listens to head coach Claude Julien during NHL hockey practice in Brossard, Quebec, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP) Paul Chiasson

  • Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy instructs his players at the team's NHL hockey training camp, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Elise Amendola

  • Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette, center left, talks to his players during NHL hockey practice at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via AP) Ricky Carioti

Associated Press
Published: 1/13/2021 4:42:10 PM
Modified: 1/13/2021 4:42:05 PM

Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice struggled to blow a whistle while wearing a mask. Barry Trotz couldn’t see if one of his New York Islanders players was skating toward him because his mask had helped fog up his glasses.

“It was ugly there for a while,” Maurice said. “There’s some challenges to it.”

One of the new challenges for NHL coaches this season is the requirement to wear a mask behind the bench during games and on the ice for practices. Now that goaltenders won’t be the only masked men around the rink, coaches will learn and adjust on the fly like those in other sports have had to in recent months.

“Just being around the rink all day wearing one is an adjustment, but we’ll work it out,” Joel Quenneville of the Florida Panthers said. “Sometimes when you really want to get your point across, you might have to pull your mask down to make yourself clear. But I’ve never changed lines with a face mask on.”

Hockey coaches are more responsible than their counterparts in baseball, football or basketball to bark out directions in real time at a fast pace, which makes this an even steeper learning curve. Get ready for loud yelling and maybe a few more bench minor penalties for too many men on the ice.

“I used to have a big moustache, maybe that was kind of like a mask,” Dave Tippett of the Edmonton Oilers said. “I’m a mumbler at the best of times. You’ll have to be really clear with who’s going on line changes.”

One thing that’s clear is most coaches won’t complain about the extra safety measure to prevent virus spread. Quenneville and his staff have talked about NFL coaches being fined for not wearing face coverings correctly and how they’ve adapted.

Commissioner Gary Bettman told coaches and executives that protocols “are not a suggestion or a recommendation” and the NHL “will vigorously enforce them.”

“I’m going to have to do my absolute best to make sure it stays on and stays right,” D.J. Smith of the Ottawa Senators said. “Ultimately the league’s doing it for a reason, and it’s the safety, and I’ll abide by all the rules.”

So will John Tortorella, who told the Columbus Blue Jackets on the first day of camp he doesn’t want to hear any complaining about health and safety protocols. He said wearing a mask is important and added: “It doesn’t affect me, it will not affect the other coaches.”

Colleagues also see it as personal responsibility.

“It’s the right move under these circumstances,” David Quinn of the New York Rangers said. “If it helps a little bit, we should all do it, so certainly our staff is embracing it. Our organization’s embracing it and we’re just going to have to manage it.”

There are some benefits. Maurice suggested keeping the television cameras off him during games because they won’t be able to pick up anything he’s saying anyway.

Gone — for now — are the days of reading lips of coaches swearing at officials or each other.

“Probably be good for me,” Peter Laviolette of the Washington Capitals said. “Nobody will see what’s coming out of my mouth. My mother will be happy.”

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