SEATTLE – The Wild is having another run-in with COVID-19.
Forwards Mats Zuccarello and Rem Pitlick entered the NHL's COVID protocols and did not play Thursday against the Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena after testing positive on Wednesday in Seattle.
Last season, the Wild was shut down for almost two weeks after an outbreak sidelined more than half the roster.
"It's what our world is, right?" coach Dean Evason said. "So, we've been through it, dealt with it. We were notified nobody else is positive, so hopefully it stays that way."
The team canceled practice Wednesday afternoon, and everyone was tested Thursday. Zuccarello and Pitlick again tested positive, a source said. All of the Wild players have been vaccinated, including Zuccarello and Pitlick.
Both players were in action Tuesday in the 3-2 win against Vancouver, with Zuccarello scoring the Wild's first goal and Pitlick setting up the game-winner.
Zuccarello, who had a team-high seven points going into Thursday's game, and Pitlick will be unavailable for at least 10 days. They couldn't accompany the team to Colorado where the Wild's road trip wraps up Saturday, but the team will find a way to get them back to Minnesota.
With Pitlick and Zuccarello out, the Wild recalled forwards Connor Dewar and Kyle Rau and defenseman Jon Lizotte from the American Hockey League. Only Dewar and Lizotte played against the Kraken, their first NHL games.
Although the NHL has returned to a normal schedule this season, COVID-19 remains an issue for the league despite most players being vaccinated.
Chicago, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Seattle, St. Louis and Winnipeg have all been affected. The Wild also has three coaches in the COVID protocols: assistant Darby Hendrickson, goaltending coach Frederic Chabot and video coach T.J. Jindra. General Manager Bill Guerin was previously in the protocols but was released and has rejoined the team on the road.
After playing four seasons of junior hockey in Washington, Dewar was back in the Pacific Northwest to make his NHL debut with the Wild against the Kraken.
"It's kind of funny the way it works out and life comes full circle," he said.
Dewar suited up for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, racking up 99 goals and 197 points.
During that stint, the Wild drafted him in the third round in 2018 and after two seasons in the minors, the winger finally cracked the NHL lineup. Through four games with Iowa this season, Dewar had two goals and two assists.
"Arguably one of their best players or their best player down there right now," Evason said. "He plays with a lot of heart, a lot of passion, a lot of grit."
The 22-year-old started on the fourth line with Nick Bjugstad and Victor Rask, who was back in action after being a healthy scratch on Tuesday.
While Dewar didn't think his parents would be able to make the game from Manitoba, he was expecting his two billet families from his junior career to be in attendance.
"It was awesome," Dewar said of his time with Everett. "Some of the best years of my life."
Defensemen Dmitry Kulikov (lower body) and Alex Goligoski (upper body) sat out because of injuries.
Jordie Benn took Goligoski's spot on the top pairing next to captain Jared Spurgeon in his first game of the season and first with the team after signing as a free agent in August.
As for Lizotte, who's from Grand Forks and played at St. Cloud State, he made his NHL debut on the third pairing with Jon Merrill.
Another free-agent pickup in the offseason, Lizotte was with Pittsburgh's minor-league affiliate for three seasons before signing with the Wild.
Same but different
Climate Pledge Arena might look familiar from the outside, but the inside was completely remade ahead of the Kraken's arrival.
Located at the base of the Space Needle on the 74-acre Seattle Center campus, the arena still has the original sloped roof — which previously housed the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics before they left for Oklahoma City. That roof is a historic landmark that was built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.
After a $1.15 billion construction project that began in December 2018, Climate Pledge Arena officially opened Oct. 22 with a Coldplay concert ahead of the Kraken's home opener last Saturday.
The venue seats up to 17,100 for hockey, and not one but two scoreboards hang over the ice.
"You're going to feel on top of the action," said Steve Mattson, the executive vice president and general manager of Climate Pledge Arena who was the VP and GM of Target Center in Minneapolis for 16 years before joining Seattle.
The Kraken is also using an old ferry horn as its goal horn, and the arena collects rainwater that's used to resurface the ice.