WARREN‘S PIECE: Smith among longest serving NHL coaches, COVID-19 here, there, everywhere – Ottawa Sun

The pace of coaching turnover in the NHL continues to be shocking.
After Paul Maurice’s stunning decision Thursday to step down as bench boss of the Winnipeg Jets, Senators coach D.J. Smith now ranks 11th in terms of tenure with his current squad. For those counting, that means 20 teams have made coaching changes since Smith took over from interim coach Marc Crawford in May, 2019.
Smith has gone 57-79-18 with the Senators.
The current road trip provides an indication of just how fast situations can change.
While Jon Cooper has been a fixture in Tampa since replacing Guy Boucher in 2013, both the Florida Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers have made changes.
Former Panthers coach Joel Quenneville resigned in the wake of the Kyle Beech scandal.
On Dec. 6, the Philadelphia Flyers fired Alain Vigneault, replacing him with assistant coach Mike Yeo.
The Flyers had lost eight consecutive games before Vigneault was replaced.
The Flyers suffered two more defeats under Yeo. Since then, they’ve gone 3-0-1, including Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss in front of no fans in Montreal.
For those interested in the Claude Giroux Watch (the rumblings about eventually ending up back in his home town of Ottawa never completely go away), he has 10 goals and 14 assists in 28 games. Giroux is due to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer. He currently carries a salary cap hit of $8.275 million, but his base salary this season is $4 million.
While both the Senators and Flyers were away from the ice on Friday, the landscape was changing across the league, with the NHL announcing that Calgary, Colorado and Florida were being put on ice until after Christmas.
The league also announced that Boston’s scheduled game against Montreal on Saturday was being postponed. The Bruins are scheduled to play the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre at 5 p.m. on Sunday, but that is subject to change. The Bruins have at least six players and one staff member in COVID-19 protocol.
Next week, the Senators are scheduled to have home games against St. Louis on Dec. 21 and Carolina on Dec. 23. Stay tuned on that front. Carolina (see below) and Florida played with only 18 players, two shy of the maximum, on Thursday.
COVID-19 is also taking away opportunities from Matt Murray and Michael Del Zotto to rediscover their games in the American Hockey League.
Belleville’s originally scheduled game in Syracuse Friday was postponed, as was Saturday’s home game versus Providence.
On Wednesday, Belleville’s contest against Lehigh Valley in Allentown, Pa., was postponed.
Since clearing waivers and being sent to Belleville, Murray has a win and a loss, with a goals against average of 2.55 and a .918 save percentage.
Del Zotto has yet to play for Belleville.
So, how did Carolina forwards Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis manage to get back home this week after testing positive for COVID-19 in Vancouver on Monday? Government rules normally require a 14-day quarantine. The Hurricanes, however, convinced health officials of a plan to get the players back to Raleigh without coming into contact with the public. The players flew to Everett, Wash., via emergency medical transportation. They then boarded the private jet owned by Hurricanes owner Thomas Dundon and made a pit-stop in St. Paul, Minn., where fellow players Ian Cole, Steven Lorentz, Jordan Staal and Andrei Svechnikov were in quarantine. From there, they flew to North Carolina.
The pandemic has also forced the organizers to cancel what would have been the 22nd annual Bell Capital Cup. The holiday tournament, which was scheduled to begin on Dec. 28 with 197 teams in 18 divisions throughout Ottawa, has been a staple of the community. The Ottawa International Hockey Festival opted to make the decision based on the strong recommendation from Ottawa Public Health that all indoor sports and team play be suspended immediately. The OIHF, which also pulled the plug on the tournament in 2020, plans on bringing the tournament back next season.
If and when Adam Gaudette returns to the Senators lineup, could Chris Tierney be the odd man out? Tierney has no points in his past seven games and only one assist in his past 13. He hasn’t scored sine Nov. 2. His ice time has also been gradually decreasing, playing only 10:58 versus Tampa and 7:35 against Florida on Tuesday…Anton Forsberg has stopped 178 of 191 shots in his past six games, raising his season save percentage to .909 from .880…The line of Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Drake Batherson has combined for 16 goals and 16 assists in eight games in November.
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