The Henderson Silver Knights coaching staff might get another chance behind the NHL bench.
Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros expects he and his staff to fill in for Pete DeBoer and coaches when the Vegas Golden Knights host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
“We’re assuming that tomorrow we’re going to be on the bench,” Viveiros said.
Viveiros, along with assistant coaches Joel Ward and Jamie Heward, served as assistants for Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon.
The Golden Knights announced near 4 p.m. Tuesday that “out of an abundance of caution,” DeBoer and his staff would self-isolate due to potential COVID-19 tracing. McCrimmon confirmed after the game, a 5-4 shootout loss for Vegas, that a member of the coaching staff tested positive.
No players, nor other coaches, tested positive.
Henderson practiced Wednesday at Lifeguard Arena with Viveiros, Ward and Heward watching from a balcony. Due to NHL protocols, the coaches are not permitted to be near their AHL players.
Viveiros said veteran center Patrick Brown and the Henderson training staff ran practice and will do so Thursday when the Silver Knights practice at Orleans Arena.
“Sometimes, it’s good to watch up top because you see everything,” Viveiros said. “I was very happy with practice. I thought it was really clean, the quality was really good, and the pace was excellent. These guys are professionals. They want to get better every day, and they put the time in.”
It’s not every day an NHL game is practice for the AHL group, but it was in this case. Viveiros will make his AHL coaching debut Friday in a preseason game against the San Jose Barracuda.
That’s eight days before Henderson’s inaugural game, at home, against the Ontario Reign on Feb. 6.
The situation will be similar; no fans in attendance, maybe pumped-in crowd noise, with skates and sticks being the most distinctive sounds.
“It was the first time being in a live game for our staff for almost close to a year,” Viveiros said. “First and foremost, our job last night was to help and support in any possible way we could with the Golden Knights. Pete DeBoer and his staff did a wonderful job under trying circumstances.
“That team was fully prepared last night. The players were outstanding as far as what they have to do. For us, we were there in a support role. The gameplan was laid out for them, they knew exactly what they had to do, and we were there to help in any possible way when needed.”
The Golden Knights play the Blues at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday before hitting the road for two against the San Jose Sharks, but not at SAP Center in Northern California.
Vegas returns to Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, to face the Sharks, their temporary home until mid-February when they can return to San Jose.
As of now, it’s unclear if DeBoer will be available for his first game against the club that fired him in December 2019. Viveiros expects to coach Friday’s preseason opener, but as Tuesday’s situation proved, much can change on a dime.
“That’s not why we put our American Hockey League affiliate in Henderson, Nevada, but certainly it was a godsend [Tuesday],” McCrimmon said. “I can’t thank their staff enough. … When they went to the rink this morning in Henderson, they sure wouldn’t have expected this is how their day would play out. It’s a real fortunate stroke of luck that we’ve got our team right here.”
Danny Webster is the newest columnist and reporter for Vegas Hockey Now. He is the Golden Knights beat writer for NHL dot com. Catch him on Twitter @DannyWebster21