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Older NHL coaches putting trust in restart plan despite COVID-19 concerns

Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

With the NHL on track to resume its season, some of the league's older coaches are ready to return behind the bench, even though they're aware of the risks they'll have to assume.

"No doubt you're thinking of the different options you may have, whether it's wearing a mask, to what extent you are going to deal with your team and players," 60-year-old Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien said, according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. "I know it may be a challenge behind the bench more than anywhere else, but my thinking is that I need to be ready to adjust and have options when that time comes, depending on where we are at with COVID and our hockey circumstance."

Julien added: "That also means pulling myself out if I feel a real danger. My family and life are more important than my job at that point."

The NHL isn't planning to implement any age-based restrictions on its coaches. It will be up to each individual to determine if they are comfortable participating or not.

There are currently 12 active members on NHL coaching staffs who will be 60 or older by the end of June, LeBrun added.

Dallas Stars head coach Rick Bowness expressed his fear of contracting the virus, saying, "I've been giving it an awful lot of thought. Without a doubt. I'm 65." However, the oldest bench boss in the NHL is putting his trust in the league and is yearning to see what Phases 3 and 4 of its return-to-play plan will look like.

"We'll have to see how it all looks when we get there," Bowness said. "You've got to trust that the league and everyone is doing everything they can to protect us all. Until I get there and see how it's all laid out. If the safety and precautions are being met, then yeah, we'll go ahead with it."

The NHL is aiming to launch full training camps leaguewide July 10. Coaches and training personnel haven't been permitted to be on the ice with players during Phase 2.

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