As always, let’s get the injury stuff out of the way first:
Erik Johnson not only will not play tonight, he won’t play for the next three games, at least. Jared Bednar didn’t use the word “setback” to describe the status of his veteran defenseman, but he did say that he didn’t respond as well as hoped following Tuesday, when he skated some at practice.
So, that’s another tough loss for the Avs. Calle Rosen will make his Avs debut tonight, as a result, against the Edmonton Oilers. Johnson’s injury is not to his shoulder, Bednar said, as some might have thought following his crash into the boards from the shove by Alexander Kerfoot the other night. I believe it’s a lower-body issue.
Other news: Mikko Rantanen will return Saturday, at home against Chicago. He won’t play in Friday’s game in Chicago. So, there’s some good news, at least.
Philipp Grubauer will be in goal tonight, hoping to rebound from a bad game against Toronto. Tyson Jost will move up to second-line left wing, on a line with Nazem Kadri and J.T. Compher. Gabe Landeskog skated again today, and it’s starting to feel like there’s a chance he might be back sooner than Christmas, but Bednar said there is still no firm timetable. Matt Calvert has not skated since getting that head injury last week in Vancouver.
Lots of controversial stuff in the news of late regarding NHL coaches, the biggest story being the ongoing investigation by the Calgary Flames into allegations made by one of coach Bill Peters’ former minor-league players – Akim Aliu – that Peters used racial epithets against him.
Avs defenseman Ian Cole played with Aliu, who was born in Nigeria, with the Peoria Rivermen in 2010-11 and said he never witnessed any epithets toward Aliu. Guess who was the coach of that 2010-11 Peoria Rivermen team?
It was Jared Bednar. Bednar, by the way, was asked in general about the situation regarding Peters-Aliu and whether he’d ever had any “issues” with him or any other player like that. Bednar said no, he hadn’t.
The team in which Aliu said the epithets occurred was a couple of years earlier, with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL. Aliu played parts of two seasons, from 2008-10, under Peters, and it was there that he said Peters used the N word against him.
Cole called the situation surrounding Peters-Aliu a “black eye” for the sport.
“I know in the situation (Aliu) was in, he was a young guy and it’s much tougher to stand up for yourself,” Cole said. “You want to assimilate, you want to be part of the team as much as you can. Certainly, nobody in the game of hockey likes this. In my mindset, if you can help our team, hey, we’re happy to have you. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your anything is. That’s how I think about it and I think that’s how much people think about it, but unfortunately, there’s some outliers who may not think the same way.”