Ducharme hopes to return to Canadiens in playoffs as soon as possible

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MONTREAL — Dominique Ducharme said he hopes to return to coach the Montreal Canadiens as soon as possible after testing positive for COVID-19.

Protocols say Ducharme has to quarantine for 14 days, which would likely go until the middle of the Stanley Cup Final.

“Hopefully, I can be back earlier than that,” Ducharme said Sunday. “It’s frustrating because I’ve been doing everything that they’ve asked us to do. I never exposed myself. I got that bad luck.”

Ducharme explained his reasoning for thinking he could be back sooner.

“The team, the organization is in contact with the authorities and it’s a particular situation because we’ve been in a bubble since the beginning of December. For me, being in isolation, we know all about that. And it was the same thing when we were in [Las] Vegas, we weren’t even allowed to go outside. So we respected that. It was bad luck.

“But the fact that the whole team has been vaccinated twice and it will be two weeks in June 23, so there are a lot of things to consider in hoping that I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

Luke Richardson will coach the Canadiens against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). Richardson coached Montreal in a 3-2 overtime win Friday that gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, and will continue to do so in Ducharme’s absence, with help from assistant Alex Burrows and director of goaltending Sean Burke.

“He’s got really good hockey knowledge,” Ducharme said of Richardson, “but also he’s that kind of guy you want to be going through adversity or facing obstacles, you want a guy like that on your side. He’s a true person. He’s the best teammate you can have.”

Ducharme said he addressed the team virtually before and after Game 4.

“We stay in touch, talking with the coaches a couple times a day,” he said. “I’m talking to the players almost once a day. Yesterday we had a meeting on Zoom. And we’ll do the same before the game (Sunday), just a quick word. Hopefully I can get back as soon as possible.”

Ducharme said he had no idea how he contracted the virus.

“In [Las] Vegas we were not allowed to go outside, not even taking a walk or walking from the rink to the hotel,” Ducharme said. “I respected that. I went from my room to the meal room, to the bus to the rink. We were allowed to go to the gym that was reserved for us in between certain hours. I went there. So yeah, it’s frustrating. But that’s the way it is. And hopefully, I can get back as soon as possible.”

Ducharme said no one around him has tested positive, including his girlfriend, as well as his children, who he said he has not seen in the past two weeks.

“It’s tough to describe,” he said. “You feel helpless, just watching and hoping for the best. It’s a weird situation. I’ve never been through that. The last time I watched the Canadiens on TV it was probably like three years, four years ago. Kind of a special situation, but it’s been a special year. We’ve been through a lot, and we’ll get through that.”

NHL.com staff writer Mike Zeisberger contributed to this report

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