Gabriel Landeskog spoke to the media for nearly 20 minutes on Thursday evening, just a little over an hour after it was announced his season was over.
Landeskog was very forthcoming in the press conference, giving details about an injury that has been a mystery for months.
I have a lot of thoughts on the whole situation, but I may take a day or two to gather those thoughts. There’s a lot to unpack. Not only is Landeskog out for the remainder of the season, but next season is now a question mark. If the team isn’t sure if Landeskog will play next season, there is a heck of a lot to address this summer. Replacing a Landeskog in the lineup is borderline impossible, but can you go into next season with that uncertainty again? I don’t think so.
Either way, he’s not coming back this season, so the Avalanche will be attempting to repeat as Stanley Cup champs without their Captain. Not an easy thing to do, but they’ve played without him all year long, so they’re used to it at this point.
For now, here’s a full transcription of what Landeskog had to say. Look for more on this in the coming days at CHN.
How he’s doing?
“I’m doing good. It’s been a lot of ups and downs, as you can imagine. Some tough days and a lot of good days as well. I’m lucky and fortunate enough to have a great support system around me . First and foremost, my family and my close friends and obviously my teammates and the staff we have around us has been great.”
Timeline of the entire injury:
“The timeline goes back to the bubble, 2020. Kind of a freak accident that happens there. Never had any knee issues before that. One thing led to the next and it just sort of progressively got worse over that next year. Start of 21-22 season it started bugging me on a daily basis. It got worse and worse up until the point that we got the first surgery. At that point, I didn’t really realize the complexity of the injury and how one injury can, obviously, it compensates. The body is amazing that way. It affects a lot of different moving parts. First surgery, obviously, and was feeling good for a couple games. Then we managed it throughout the playoffs. I still tough I’d be fine, ready to go after the summer. Obviously, a very short summer. I realized fairly quickly that things had gotten worse. We started seeing some experts and doctors and started seeking out opinions and we’ve explored just about every option at this point to make sure I’d be ready to go. I thought I was going to be able to play the second half of the season. We’ve given it our best shot and it just hasn’t worked out. Moving forward, we continue to explore options. But I felt like this was the decision I had to make at this point for everybody involved and for my teammates and myself.”
Could it linger into next year?
“It very well could linger into next year. We’re trying to explore options right now and tyring to seek the best possible expertise out there. For me, it’s been a long road up to this point, but I’m hopeful and optimistic and confident that eventually we’ll come out on the other side of this. But we haven’t quite got past it yet obviously.”
On what the team has done this year:
“It’s just been one thing after the next and guys have had to step up, night in and night out. Guys have done a great job of it. You look at the month of December where, I don’t even know the number of guys that were out, but it was important players as well and guys who play big minutes and have big roles on our team. The team has been clawing and fighting and working and doing everything they can to not only stay in the race but to have a chance of winning the division, securing home ice through the first two rounds of the playoffs. I’m not surprised, though. Those are guys in there that will do anything to keep proving, once again, that we’re a heck of a hockey team. Doesn’t matter who is in the lineup. Whoever is, they’re always ready to play. Well coached team, we’re a hard team to play against and obviously we’ve got some amazing seasons by a bunch of players and guys have really stepped up. It’s been fun to watch, even though it’s been tough at times watching.”
Is it stemming from the slice in the bubble and how hard is it to make this decision?
“Yeah. No, it’s stemming from that. That was the starting point. And many twists and turns have led us here today, and we’ll see what the next few months look like. But yeah, this was a tough decision to make. Throughout this entire season, it’s felt like the playoffs have always been the one thing that, ‘well no matter what, I’m not going to miss that.’ Timelines kept getting pushed back, and for a long time we just went away from timelines for that reason, because it just sets you up for disappointment and frustration. And when you’re consumed by rehab and you’re consumed by an injury, and anybody that’s dealt with chronic pain to any degree, it affects you in more ways than just physically. And I think for me, yeah the last last few weeks have been rough, but that’s why I wanted to do this, for my teammates’ sakes, for them not to have to answer questions and speculate, but also for my sake as well. Being able to sort of have this out in the open, and we’re obviously very hush hush about injuries and timelines and how things are going, but I felt like it was important for me to get this out there.”
On support from teammates:
“They certainly have been [supportive], and a number of guys have always been. I’d probably say everybody at some point or another has reached out, and at times when I was away from the team, always stayed in touch with the team and as much as I can with with guys and checking in on how things are going. Obviously, a lot of players have been on this side of things where you’re on the outside of the team looking in, and the last question a lot of guys want to ask is ‘how you feel’ and ‘how’s your knee?’ So guys avoid that, but it’s just about kind of staying connected with the group and staying connected with, whether it’s coaches or staff or players. And even though you’re not necessarily inside that locker room on a daily basis, you still feel like a part of the team, and I think that’s important moving forward as well. Those guys are amazing hockey players over there, but not only that, they’re quality people and good friends of mine, and they have most definitely helped me throughout this journey. And I’ll continue to lean on them moving forward.”
On the decision being your call to make and are there regrets on playing on the injury last year in the playoffs:
“There’s never been a moment where I regretted anything, especially about last year’s playoff run. I can say that, and I feel strongly about that. You know, I’d do anything to help this team win and especially to go all the way. I mean that was very special. To answer your question about this decision and to get here, it’s sort of been a ongoing conversation, I’d say, that we’ve had over a long period of time, but I’ve been confident all the way through, probably up until the last couple of weeks, to be honest with you, when I started kind of plateauing. I was confident we were progressing and we were gaining some really good grounds and making some good progressions up until, I’d probably say the last couple of weeks, where where things were starting to plateau. It’s been a decision that I’ve made with obviously the staff, our management, everything. I’ve just kind of bounced ideas off of people, and obviously gotten advice from a lot of people, but ultimately it was my decision, and the team and the organization have done nothing but support me.”
Message to the team:
“There’s a lot of champions in there. Majority of the guys were there, and they know what to expect. I think that’s the advantage you have after having gone through it, is: you know what to expect every step of the way. Will things be difficult and hard? Absolutely, as it should be. ITs the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But I think my message is just kind of be there, support them, give them any help if they need it. Leadership group in there is very strong. We’ve got plenty of guys in there with experience, but also just kind of that passion and the drive to do it again. The hunger to do it again. … I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen, especially the second half of the season. Starting to recognize our hockey team again after obviously it was a tough first half of the season, in terms of who was in the lineup on a nightly basis. It was very choppy. There was no real flow to it. Second half of the season, guys have done an amazing job. And I’m confident in our group in there. Whoever we’re lined up against, I like our chances. I like our team.”
Have you felt enough progress that you’re confident you’ll be able to play again?
“That I’m going to be able to play again? Yeah. I’m confident in that. When? I don’t know. You try and take it one step at a time. This is no different than going into a new season, essentially. Where you start with training camp and you go from there. This is the same thing. I’m trying not to look too far ahead. But I’m confident, and like I said, we’ll get through this.”
“Plateaued.” — any setbacks since the most recent surgery or just slower moving?
“I wouldn’t say there’s been any significant setbacks. I would just say going into that second surgery, I was still very confident I was going to play in the regular season this year. And let alone the playoffs. I personally might have underestimated the injury itself. And yeah, I think I’ll leave it at that. Obviously it’s been tough, and like I said earlier, time lengths and kind of goal dates have kept being pushed back, and that’s hard. Did I think at the start of the season I was going to sit here and do this? Absolutely not.”
Do you envision traveling with the team this year, throughout this playoff run for as long as it goes? Number two, going back to last year’s postseason, I don’t recall you participating in morning skates or anything like that. Just how difficult was it or was it difficult for you to kind of play through those 20 games? You had this issue later?
“Yeah, I mean, in terms of traveling, I think I’ll be around the team as much as I can at the same time as I have to take care of this, and deal with this as best as I can. So as long as that matches up, and that works, I’ll be around the team as much as I possibly can. For my sake, but also I think for the team and, you know, being around the guys, I thinkwould be good for myself, especially for selfish reasons, just being around 25 of some of my closest friends that I have, so that’ll be good. But going back to the playoffs last year. Listen, playoffs is a different animal, and everybody’s dealing with stuff. We had guys with broken fingers, broken ribs, separated shoulders, we had all, you know, all of it. And I think we’re all going through something and I just happen to be dealing with an injury that allowed me to play games but not much more than that. Did the games take a toll? Obviously, but I don’t regret anything.”
You kind of addressed this with Ken and saying being around the team, trying to be around the team as much as you can through the playoffs. As the captain, How do you envision your role? What can you do as the captain to support this team as they go through it?
“I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve quite figured that out yet. You know, it’s one thing to be around the team and go through an injury in the regular season but playoffs is just a different type of focus and different type of preparation and all of that. So, I’ll be around as much as the guys want me. Obviously, nothing will change in terms of how I act around the guys or things like that. I just might need to get up to speed on some of their superstitions as they evolve here during the playoffs. But yeah, we’ll see, we’ll figure that out as we go. But I’m not planning to change and I know the guys aren’t planning to change the way they treat me, and I still take take a lot of heat in that locker room, which is the way it should be, so that’s a positive.”
I know you said injuries, obviously, are usually hush-hush, but now that there’s some finality with this season, can you disclose just what this injury is?
“It’s a cartilage injury on the bottom of the patella, that’s allowing me to do a lot of things and I can walk around and look normal doing it. But when it comes to skating, that’s just a different beast. And especially in the NHL, I mean you got to be able to do everything at top speed and, I haven’t been able to get to that point.”
You mentioned that surgery might be an option again, at some point. What are you sort of hearing from doctors in terms of the advice on that? And if that were to become an option, do you sort of have I guess, a plan on when you would want to do it to optimize recovery in sort of trying to get back?
“Well, We’re still in a lot of talks in terms of trying to get more information from different doctors on what the next step could be. And what, if a procedure, what that procedure would entail. I think it’s a big decision, so it needs a lot of doing as much homework as I can on different options. But we haven’t gotten to the point yet where I know exactly what that would mean. But nonetheless, I’d like to start progressing, moving forward as fast as I can and as soon as possible. So, we’ll see when that is.”