Canadiens’ Armia in COVID-19 protocol day before Cup Final

US and World Sports

Montreal Canadiens’ Jesperi Kotkaniemi, left, and Joel Armia celebrate a goal by Josh Anderson on Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury during the third period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey semifinal series, Friday, June 18, 2021, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia has been placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and didn’t travel with the team to Tampa Bay on Sunday, a day before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

General manager Marc Bergevin made the announcement after Armia was not at practice in Montreal before the Canadiens traveled to play the Lightning. Bergevin would only say he’ll have an update on Monday.

It’s unclear how long Armia will be in the protocol or whether he tested positive. Armia spent 19 days in the protocol spanning March and April after contracting the British variant.

Armia has already posted playoff career bests with five goals and eight points in 17 games while playing on what’s considered Montreal’s energy line with veterans Corey Perry and Eric Staal.

“It’s not ideal,” defenseman Ben Chiarot said of Armia’s status. “It’s something we’ve kind of been dealing with all year, guys going out to the COVID protocol. … It’s just another piece of adversity we’ll have to deal with.”

The Canadiens are without interim coach Dominique Ducharme, who remains in isolation since testing positive for COVID-19 on June 18.

Assistant coach Luke Richardson has taken over bench duties, with Ducharme not scheduled to return until Friday, when the Canadiens host Game 3. Ducharme missed the final four games of Montreal’s six-game semifinal series win over Vegas.

BLACKHAWKS LAWSUIT

Bergevin, who previously worked for the Blackhawks, said he did not take part in any meetings or become involved in any decisions made in regards to sexual assault allegations made against former Chicago assistant coach Bradley Aldrich.

“I was not aware of anything going on at the time, so you can go on the record with that,” Bergevin said.

He was responding to a question regarding an unidentified former player launching a lawsuit against the team alleging the Blackhawks did nothing after the player told them he was sexually assaulted by Aldrich during Chicago’s Stanley Cup title run.

Bergevin was the Blackhawks’ director of player personnel in 2010. He was eventually promoted to the position of assistant GM before being hired by the Canadiens in May 2012.

According to TSN, two Blackhawks players told then-skills coach Paul Vincent in May 2010 of inappropriate behavior by Aldrich. Vincent then asked team executives, including team President John McDonough and general manager Stan Bowman, to report the allegations to Chicago police, but his request was rejected.

MAROON THREE?

Lightning forward Patrick Maroon goes into the final with a chance to become the first NHL player to win the Stanley Cup three years in a row on at least two different teams. The St. Louis native who helped the Blues win it all in 2019 would be the first to hoist the Cup three times in a row since the New York Islanders’ dynasty of the early 1980s.

“Job’s not done yet, but it’s cool to be put in that category,” Maroon said. “I’m playing on really good teams and teams that want to get over the hump and teams that want to win every single night. I’m lucky enough to play with such good guys, character guys that get it and I’m just there.”

PARLEZ VOUS?

There will be no home-sweet-home return for Lightning GM Julien BriseBois.

He grew up a 15-minute drive from Montreal’s Bell Centre, and got his NHL start working for the Canadiens in 2001, before being hired by Tampa Bay nine years later.

“We’re very conscious — we have a number of Quebecers in our organization,” BriseBois said. “We know we have 8 million opponents that we will need to beat if we want to win the Stanley Cup.”

Maybe more. Quebec’s population is projected to be closer to 8.5 million.

BriseBois did congratulate Bergevin for finishing second in the NHL’s GM of the year vote behind the New York Islanders’ Lou Lamoriello.

BY THE NUMBERS

Scoring first might be key. The Lightning are 12-2 when scoring first this postseason, and 0-4 when giving up the first goal. Montreal is 11-2 when going up 1-0, and is 1-3 when its opponent opens the scoring. … The Canadiens have set an NHL playoff record in having gone 13 consecutive games without allowing a power-play goal. The previous mark of 10 consecutive games was held held by three teams, most recently the New Jersey Devils in 2000. The Canadiens have allowed three power-play goals on 46 opportunities, and have scored a playoff-leading four short-handed goals. … The Lightning’s power play has converted 20 of 53 chances.

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Wawrow reported from Montreal, and Whyno reported from Tampa, Florida.

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