Honestly, do we ever talk about, you know, hockey anymore? Everything is just Covid this, Covid that, injury here, injury there, injury prognosis, timetables on return…yadda, yadda, yadda. I feel like I never write about the game anymore, just M*A*S*H meatball journalism.
And so it went today at Avalanche headquarters, where a bunch of guys were not able to be on the ice for practice after a multi-day “pause” because of Covid protocol stuff. Just because there was a break doesn’t mean there isn’t new Covid stuff to report.
The following Colorado Avalanche players were added to the Covid list during the pause: Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, Pavel Francouz, Logan O’Connor and Kurtis MacDermid.
Players who were on the list before the pause, who returned to practice today: Devon Toews, Cale Makar, Andre Burakovsky, Darcy Kuemper and J.T. Compher.
Also at practice in regular sweater today: captain Gabe Landeskog. He should be ready to return Wednesday against the Dallas Stars at Ball Arena.
If the game is played, that is.
“I think we’re actually in a pretty good spot,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We’ve got McDermid coming off tomorrow, Kadri the next day, both will be options for us on the 29th. O’Connor will come off and be able to play on the 31st. So will Mikko. I think we have only a handful of guys who haven’t had it this season. Hopefully they don’t get it. If they do, at least it’s not going to be able to move through our whole team because now they’ve all had it and won’t have to test for 90 days.”
A handful of Dallas players were put on the Covid list Sunday. I’m going to go ahead and bet that the game will be played, because the NHL reportedly will allow for more of a taxi squad and cap overage allowance in the coming days. Expect a bunch of callups from the Eagles soon perhaps, in other words.
Francouz (symptoms) can’t come off the Covid list until Jan. 5, so Bednar said the team will recall a goalie from the Eagles, and likely a couple other skaters as well.
Bednar also said he expects the next two games, against Dallas, to be played.
Toews, who met briefly with the press via Zoom, said his Covid symptoms were “very, very mild”, though he did say he quarantined in his basement some, because he has a 5-month-old child.
Bo Byram (head) did not practice. He was at the rink, however:
— Adrian Dater (@adater) December 26, 2021
Here’s some video of MacKinnon, Burakovsky and Landeskog skating, displaying some fine synchronicity. It was shot by award-winnin cinematographer Terry Frei.
P.S., subscribe to my YouTube channel too, please (if I get 1,000 subscribers, I can start making money on these little videos, and more money equals more coverage here):
Off for nearly a week after facing Nashville last week, the Avalanche did considerable skating at Sunday’s practice. It wasn’t a bag skate, but a marked homage to conditioning.
“We could’t do a lot,” Bednar said. “I talked to Casey (Bond), our strength coach. He asked me what we were trying to get out of this. We weren’t going to do a lot of contact or anything like that, try to avoid the starting and stopping so guys’ groins were ok. We have to get back into game shape with the time off, especially the skating part of it. I’m sure a lot of our guys have been training amd trying to stay ready, but it’s not the same as getting on the ice and contact is a whole other thing. Or just trying to build us up to that while still not overloading us over the next few days.”
Bednar, by the way, acknowlged he would suport the NHL if it followed the NFL lead of testing asymptomatic players only weekly and trusting players to report symptoms.
“All I can do is look at the people I know who have had it.” he said. “Especially the new variant. All of our guys are asymptomaticand are shoing cold-type symptoms. We’re kind of in our own little bubble, right? It’s at home, then it’s to the rink every day. If it’s the road, it’s plan, hotel and we’re kind of working within our own group. It’s not like we have time during the season, especially this season where we’re packing in games, to go and do anything else. Our players are all vaccinated multiple times and had boosters and so I think if you’re not sick, I’d like to see our guys able to play.
“I want it to be safe and make sure everybody’a healthy, but at the same time, if it’s no symptoms or cold-like symptoms, they’ve played throiugh that every other year we’ve played. I guess time will tell what the variants bring. I got sick for a few days where I wouldn’t have been able to work, then felt good and obviously the players have a more taxing job that I have. But if that’s the way it’s going, I think there will be adjustments made.”
Terry Frei contributed to this report.