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Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy enters COVID protocol, misses Tuesday’s game vs. Red Wings

Bruins assistant coaches (left to right) Joe Sacco, Kim Brandvold and Kevin Dean led the team Tuesday night in place of Bruce Cassidy.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Bruins organization is dealing with its first COVID-19 trouble of the season.

No players are known to be affected, but two coaches, including Bruce Cassidy, are on the sidelines.

Cassidy was placed in COVID protocol Tuesday and missed the team’s game against the Red Wings. He was not present at the morning skate, though general manager Don Sweeney said he was feeling fine, with “mild symptoms.”

Cassidy joined assistant coach Chris Kelly, who was placed in protocol last week.

Though not everyone who enters the protocol has the virus, Sweeney’s comments would seem to indicate a positive diagnosis for Cassidy.

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According to NHL protocol, someone who tests positive must self-isolate for at least 10 days after first reporting symptoms.

Cassidy coached Sunday against the Canucks and led Monday’s practice. If he first felt ill Tuesday, he also could miss upcoming games against the Predators (Thursday) and Lightning (Saturday), as well as the start of a Western Canada road trip that begins in Vancouver Dec. 8.

Sweeney said Kelly will be out “a few more days.” Kelly’s most recent game coaching was Nov. 21 against the Flames.

Assistant coach Joe Sacco, who was a head coach in Colorado (2009-13), took over for Cassidy. Assistant Kevin Dean and skills coach Kim Brandvold joined him on the bench.

The Bruins cannot recall coaches — or players — from AHL Providence because of a “significant breakout,” Sweeney said, “associated with their really difficult travel over the weekend and some situations around their division.”

Bruce Cassidy, seen here at a game earlier this season, missed Tuesday's contest against Detroit.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Like his players, Cassidy has been working without wearing a mask. That is allowed under the NHL’s COVID policy this season, which states that masks should be worn “consistent with CDC recommendations, in areas where there is substantial or high transmission.” Mask-wearing can be relaxed “where appropriate,” under guidance from team and local health officials.

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The three Bruins to speak to the media at the club’s training center in Brighton on Tuesday — Sweeney, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand — wore masks. Sacco, Dean and Brandvold were masked during the game. Afterward, Sacco, Taylor Hall and Linus Ullmark conducted interviews while masked.

A Bruins spokesperson said the club’s traveling party will be tested daily until further notice. Standard is every 72 hours.

Like all NHL coaches and staff and nearly all of the NHL’s approximately 900-player workforce, Cassidy is fully vaccinated. The only player known to be unvaccinated is Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who was set to play at TD Garden Tuesday.

Cassidy and Kelly are the first Bruins to be placed in COVID protocol this season. The most recent known employee was Jake DeBrusk, who spent 17 days on the list last March and April.

Other teams have been dealing with their own virus issues.

The Islanders are on a two-game COVID break, after having as many as eight players in league protocol (including ex-Bruins captain Zdeno Chara). Sunday’s game against the Rangers and Tuesday’s game against the Flyers were postponed.

On Nov. 15, the NHL also postponed three Senators games after 10 players entered protocol. The team’s 55-year-old associate coach, Jack Capuano, took a trip to the emergency room to get help for his symptoms.

The Bruins played the Senators Nov. 9, a day after Ottawa canceled practice amid the outbreak. Three players (Matt Murray, Alex Formenton, and Josh Brown) who faced the Bruins in that game wound up on the COVID list.

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Beginning Oct. 31, a Penguins outbreak forced eight players and coach Mike Sullivan into protocol.


Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.