Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice struggled to whistle while wearing a mask. Barry Trotz couldn't tell if any of his New York Islanders players were skating towards him, as his mask had helped his glasses fog up.
& # 39; It was ugly there for a while, & # 39; Maurice said. "There are some challenges."
One of the new challenges for NHL coaches this season is the requirement to wear a mask behind the bench during games and on the ice for training. Now that goalkeepers won't be the only masked men on the rink, in-flight coaches will learn and adapt as those in other sports have had to do in recent months.
“Just being on the rink all day wearing one is an adjustment, but we'll get it right,” said Joel Quenneville of the Florida Panthers. “Sometimes, if you really want to get your point across, you may have to pull your mask down to be clear. But I never changed lines with a face mask on. "
Hockey coaches are more responsible than their baseball, football, or basketball counterparts to provide directions in real time and at a rapid pace, making this an even steeper learning curve. Get ready for some loud screams and maybe a few more minor penalties for too many men on the ice.
"I used to have a big mustache, maybe that was some kind of mask," said Dave Tippett of the Edmonton Oilers. "I'm a mumbler at the best of times. You really need to be clear with who is making changes online."
One thing is clear: most coaches will not complain about the extra security measure to prevent the spread of viruses. Quenneville and his staff have talked about NFL coaches being fined for not wearing face cover correctly and how they adapted.
Commissioner Gary Bettman told coaches and executives that protocols "are not a suggestion or recommendation" and that the NHL "will enforce them vigorously."
"I'll have to do my very best to make sure it stays on and stays good," D.J. Smith of the Ottawa Senators said. "Ultimately, the league is doing it for a reason, and it's safety, and I'll follow all the rules."
So does John Tortorella, who told the Columbus Blue Jackets on the first day of the camp that he doesn't want to hear complaints about health and safety protocols. He said wearing a mask is important and added, "It doesn't affect me, it doesn't affect the other coaches."
Colleagues also see it as personal responsibility.
"It's the right move under these circumstances," said David Quinn of the New York Rangers. “If it helps a little, we should all be doing it, so our staff are definitely embracing it. Our organization embraces it and we will just have to manage it. "
There are some advantages. Maurice suggested keeping the television cameras away from him during games, because they can't pick up anything he says anyway.
For now, the days of reading the lips of coaches swearing at officials or each other are over.
"Probably good for me," said Peter Laviolette of the Washington Capitals. "No one will see what comes out of my mouth. My mother will be happy."