The Colorado Avalanche gathered together in one place for the first time since the Stanley Cup parade for media day today. Training camp is due to start tomorrow at 8:45 AM at Family Sports Center in Centennial. Media gathered to ask any coach or player that became available, their thoughts of the upcoming season. Coach Jared Bednar was first on the list today and then players came out in pairs. Cale Makar came out with his defensive partner, Devon Toews. Captain Gabriel Landeskog came out with long time best friend, Erik Johnson. The mood was light as the Stanley Cup looked over the room while the coach and players told everyone about their time off this summer.
When coach Bednar was asked if he was going to reunite the top line this year or spread them all out he replied with:
“Both, I think that we make sure that we leave all options open. I liked the way that things worked last year. Obviously, with the emergence of (Val) Nichuskin‘s play, the addition of (Arturri) Lehkonen it gives a lot of options there with the wingers.”
Coach Bednar believes that he has three options for the second line center with the addition of Evan Rodrigues. He said they “will take a good long hard look at (Alex) Newhook and (Mikko) Rantanen as an option.” He thinks that “it’s easy to remember the success at the the end of the year but, easy to forget the sacrifices it took as a team to get there.” In preparation for training camp, Coach Bednar already knows that there will be “players not ready for the start of camp.” One of the players he mentioned specifically was Valeri Nichuskin, who broke his foot during the playoffs. Saying about Nichuskin, “he is here, he is skating, but he will not be a full participant tomorrow.”
Next on the docket were the top defensive pair of Cale Makar and Devon Toews. Both were working on keeping their strength and cardio from the end of the season. Makar feels as though “consistency will be the key to our game this year as it worked for them last year.” When Makar was asked how he was going to get better with all of the accolades last year :
“Yeah, for me I’m not focused anything accolades-wise at all. I think , everybody just keeps asking me how are you gonna top it next year and um it’s not about that for me. I just want to be the kind of same player, play my game and make sure that I can contribute on both ends of the ice for my team every single night. That’s kind of the way that I look at it. I’m not going into this season trying to top what anybody did last year. We will take it day by day.”
Toews feels as though every team will be gunning for them and that they have used that Vegas series as a lesson. While they have the third starting goalie behind them in as many years, both are comfortable with the new goalie tandem.
Immediately after the two defensemen came the beloved captain Gabriel Landeskog and longtime defenseman Erik Johnson. Although both sat down with seemed to be serious faces at first, both were lighthearted and happy to be there.
Landeskog was asked what challenges they anticipate coming this season: “We are professionals. We are competitors at the end of the day and you want to compete and you want to win every time you step on the ice. It’s as simple as that , we also know that from experience that you can’t win the Stanley Cup in the first half of the season. It’s about ramping it up as you go, making sure we have a good camp, getting off to a good strong start like we always talk about and then build from there. Get better as you go, keep fine tuning things along the way, but we are excited like I said. We have a great team and another great chance to do it all over again”
The best moment of the press conference was the one question I got to ask Landeskog and Johnson. I asked them what it felt like to lift the Cup and here are their responses:
— Brennan Vogt (@AvsTerritory) September 22, 2022
There was an excitement in the room not just among the media, but among the players for a new season and new chance at the Stanley Cup. They all want to get on the ice and bring Lord Stanley back to Denver again for the fans and have a celebration with you all. So be prepared everyone, this Colorado Avalanche team is even more hungry this year than they were last year and it will be great!!