No doubt, this has been a tough off-season for Philipp Grubauer.
Let’s think back to not too long ago, to August. He and the Avalanche are in Edmonton, playing in the dystopian Covid-19 playoffs of 2020. He and the Avs have just beaten the Arizona Coyotes in a first-round series, in five games, including wins in Games 4 and 5 that were by a combined 14-2 score. To that point in the playoffs, Grubauer held a saves percentage of .953 (85 shots faced, 81 saves).
Grubauer looked and sounded very confident. He spoke of learning more about himself and the team, of believing better things were still to come, provided all things stayed equal.
Then came the day of Aug. 22, Game 1 against the Dallas Stars at Rogers Place. I was there, sitting on top of section 214, which was converted into a press area (mostly just a long, skinny table perched just above the back row of seats at the top of the section).
The first period did not go well at all for him and the Avs. Grubauer allowed three goals on 10 shots and the Avs were down 3-1 after 20 minutes. OK, bad start, but come back out in the second period and win that and things would be OK.
Just 3:06 into the second period, Grubauer’s season was done. Trying to defend against a shot from the right side, Grubauer fell face forward onto the ice. A loud grimace could be heard, even up to where I sat. He stayed down a few minutes, then needed lots of help to get off the ice and into the locker room. We have not heard from or seen him since.