Dallas Stars coach Rick Bowness was removed from the bench after the second period of Sunday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes due to COVID-19 protocols.
Bowness, 66, is the league’s oldest head coach. He’s fully vaccinated, the team said. Assistant coach John Stevens assumed head coach responsibilities for the remainder of Sunday’s game, which Dallas lost 1-0.
General manager Jim Nill later said the team believes it was a false positive for the virus and that Bowness is not experiencing any symptoms.
“It was a very low rating, but it is still positive,” Nill said. “For safety reasons, they took him out. But yes, they have vaccinated him. His first vaccination was sometime in January. He has received both vaccinations.”
Nill said the team was in contact with the league office and that each side agreed to remove Bowness from the game as a precaution.
“Everyone decided this was the right situation because of Rick’s situation, that he is low risk and because of the test score,” Nill said.
The result came back at halftime in the second period, which is why Bowness was withdrawn midgame. No other Stars staff member tested positive.
The Stars had a coronavirus outbreak on training ground after 17 team members tested positive, delaying the start of their season. Entering Sunday, Dallas goalkeeper Anton Khudobin was the only Stars player on the NHL’s COVID protocol list, which the team also believes was a false positive.
“It came back negative, in the same situation,” Nill said. “It was a really weak positive test and he went through his two protocols and had two negatives and is now cleared to travel with the team.”
According to Nill, most of the team and their travel group have been vaccinated or 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 last week as the team remains on hiatus. Sources told ESPN that some Canucks players are symptomatic, including at least one player who required an IV for dehydration over the weekend.
Associated Press contributed to this report.