The texts arrive in bursts. Ducks coach Dallas Eakins isn’t with the team, stuck at home in Orange County after he tested positive last Friday for COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t communicated constantly with his assistant coaches or his players while in the NHL’s protocol.
“You have Zoom as a viable option, texting, direct calls via our cell phones,” assistant coach Mike Stothers said via Zoom on Thursday from Montreal, where the Ducks were to face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre. “It’s been good. We’ve been able to stay in touch with everybody.”
In addition to Eakins, Stothers and assistant coach Newell Brown, goaltending coach Sudarshan Maharaj and director of player personnel Todd Marchant have stayed in touch with video coach Joe Piscotty, who also is back home in Southern California after a positive COVID-19 test.
Meanwhile, assistant coach Geoff Ward is hunkered down in Boston, where he has an offseason home. Ward, who joined the Ducks for their victory Monday over the Bruins, isn’t cleared to travel to Canada because of COVID-19 restrictions until Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.
Eakins isn’t expected to join the Ducks until the final game of their five-game trip Monday against the Detroit Red Wings.
“It’s actually worked out OK,” Stothers said of numerous virtual meetings with his far-flung colleagues. “I mean, obviously, we’d rather be all together. You know what? It’s just something we’re all getting used to. We all have to get ready to adapt and I think it’s going OK so far.”
Stothers laughed when asked about the likelihood of a barrage of texts from Eakins before, during and after recent games, including Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, when the Ducks finally found their game in the third period after two lackluster periods.
“He’s very involved in the team and the way it’s going,” Stothers said. “He’s excited watching (on TV), so he’s typing regularly via text. We can come in (the dressing room) between periods and look at it. I know he’s still in touch with the players. He has great relationships with these guys. Most is done on a face-to-face level (via Zoom). He is staying completely dialed in and that’s good for us as a staff.”
Lucas Elvenes had an assist in the San Diego Gulls’ 5-3 loss Wednesday to the Colorado Eagles, his ninth point in seven games since the Ducks claimed him off waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights. Elvenes, a 22-year-old left wing, has two goals and seven assists.
Vegas placed Elvenes on unconditional waivers Jan. 10 with the intention of terminating his contract and with the expectation that he would return to his native Sweden to play if he went unclaimed. The Ducks then claimed him and assigned him to the AHL’s Gulls one day later.
“I just think I needed a change in my hockey,” Elvenes told reporters last week. “I think I needed a new coach, new team, a new, fresh start and it’s not only me that’s doing it. It’s my teammates that are helping me. I’m happy I’m producing a lot, but at the end of the day, you want to win a game, so that’s the most important thing.”