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Stars coach Rick Bowness leaves game to enter NHL COVID-19 protocol

Stars head coach Rick Bowness entered NHL COVID-19 protocols after being pulled during their 1-0 loss to the Hurricanes Sunday.

Bowness exited between the second and third periods. Assistant John Stevens took over head coaching duties for the remainder of the game.

According to Stars GM Jim Nill, the 66-year-old Bowness is fully vaccinated and the belief is this is a case of a false positive. A similar situation happened this weekend with Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.

“He was a very low grade, but it is still positive,” Nill said. “Out of safety concerns, he was pulled. [H]e has been vaccinated. His first vaccination was back sometime in January. He’s had both vaccinations.”

After discussions with the league it was decided that the 66-year-old Bowness should leave.

“Everybody decided this was the right situation because of Rick’s situation, that he is a low risk, and because of the grade of the test,” Nill said.

Bowness will quarantine in a Raleigh hotel until further testing can be done.

Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin was placed on the protocol list Saturday and missed both games against the Hurricanes this weekend. Nill said Khudobin’s positive result was false with his PCR test from returning a negative result. He’ll re-join the team for their two games this week in Chicago.

The Stars’ first four games of the season were postponed after 17 players were placed in protocol in January.

“We had a very high percentage of players that got COVID, so they’ve been covered that way,” Nill said. “Whoever wasn’t has been vaccinated. Same as our coaching and medical training. Whoever is in our travelling party has been vaccinated.”

Currently, the Canucks are experiencing the virus spreading through their team with 16 players listed on Sunday’s update.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.