The new Seattle NHL franchise finally got its name on Thursday, but it was hardly the biggest news coming out of the league…at least in the eyes of Colorado Avalanche fans.
Just a day after Nathan MacKinnon revealed to the media that he believed Cale Makar “will be healthy soon and he should be ready to go,” sure enough, as I arrived to my seat in Section 130 of Pepsi Center this morning, I spotted the missing Makar with my own two eyes.
— Scott MacDonald (@0ffScottFree) July 23, 2020
Makar did some light skating — very light, I might add — by himself before practice formally began on Thursday. As the rest of his teammates began trickling out on the ice to start the scrimmage, Makar exitted and never returned.
“Having Cale back on the ice is a good, positive sign,” head coach Jared Bednar said after practice. “He’s back out there working out on his own and hopefully he’s able to join the group here quickly and be ready to when we get into Edmonton.”
While it’s an obvious positive to see Makar back out on the ice for the first time all week, the air of relief that accompanied his presence was quickly deflated, as the absence of another high-profile teammate became apparent.
Nathan MacKinnon was not on the ice and did not practice.
When asked about his teammate during his Zoom availability, Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog gave us the answer we were all expecting.
“I think you guys know we’re not commenting on any injuries…I don’t think I can comment too much on what the situation is,” he said.
Doing our due diligence as team reporters, coach Bednar, too, was asked about his missing superstar Hart Trophy candidate, giving us the expected: “You know I can’t give you an update on it. I can’t comment on it.”
Just a day earlier, MacKinnon completed a full practice, and was even among the last to leave the ice, before being made available to the media. That probably dispels any injury rumors — unless he tweaked his back on the golf course after practice — leaving some speculation and concern that perhaps it was a positive test for COVID-19.
When I prodded Landeskog about MacKinnon’s absence, he said “it’s good see guys coming back and seeing Cale out there…We’re excited that we keep moving forward and keep getting a day closer to the bubble. Talking to everybody here, everybody’s getting ready to pack up and get ready to go, so we’re super excited about that. We’re ready to get going.”
That was a nice way of telling me to change the subject.
The Avalanche will have a scheduled day off tomorrow, so you’ll have to hold your breath until Saturday morning. I’ll have updates for you then.
Other notes and observations from Day 9:
- It was another full scrimmage today, the fourth one in nine days of camp. Team White recorded the win and has now won three of the four intrasquad games. For those curious, Team White has mostly consisted of the Avs second and third lines, while Team Burgundy has been the top line and the fourth line.
- Pavel Francouz recorded the shutout in the scrimmage and Sheldon Dries scored again. Dries has scored in every scrimmage game thus far. Bednar made note of that a few days ago and mentioned Dries by name as a guy who has impressed him. Translation: Dries will get an invite to the Edmonton bubble. Dries has 45 games of NHL experience and just led the Colorado Eagles with 21 goals in 50 games and finished third on the team with 35 points.
- Conor Timmins stood out to me again today. He skated with a lot of effort, played well defensively, broke up a lot of passes and jumped up on the rush a number of times. Pack your bag, kid, you’re going to Edmonton.
- During the intermission of Thursday’s scrimmage, the Avalanche “send-off” video was played on Pepsi Vision’s jumbotron. Players knelt on the ice and sat on the bench and watched it intently. After the 90(ish) second video ended, players tapped their sticks on the ice in appreciation.
- There were a few cameos from local celebrities, but it was otherwise mostly fans wishing the team “good luck” and “go Avs.” Props to the marketing team, the video was well done. It certainly gave me some excited chills, probably the players too. I’m so ready for some playoff hockey.
- In other news around the league, Seattle revealed its team name as the “Seattle Kraken” and unveiled the team’s logo, color scheme and jerseys. Personally, I’m a big fan. I think they nailed it. I asked both coach Bednar and Landeskog their thoughts…short story on their thoughts on Seattle later.
- No practice on Friday. See you Saturday.