AVALANCHE

Two key Avalanche players miss Day 1 of camp with lower-body injuries

Sep 22, 2022, 9:32 AM | Updated: 1:41 pm
Gabriel Landeskog Valeri Nichushkin...
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Can you believe hockey is already back?

It feels like just yesterday we were all at the Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup parade. In a way, we were. June 30 was fewer than three months ago.

But here we are, as Avs training camp began on Thursday morning at Family Sports Center in Centennial.

The team released the line pairings for the first day of camp, along with who isn’t skating. Two names stood out, as both captain Gabriel Landeskog and winger Valeri Nichushkin are missing practice with lower-body injuries.

Is this a big deal on Day 1? Not really. The Avs don’t open the regular season for nearly three weeks. And even then, if Landeskog or Nichushkin can’t play in the first game against the Blackhawks, it certainly won’t derail the season. Hockey is an 82-game grind, and as we saw last year, health in the playoffs is paramount.

In the case of Landeskog, head coach Jared Bednar said after practice “he won’t skate anytime soon.” Bednar added there’s no timetable for his return and the issue could definitely linger into the regular season. Landeskog had knee surgery near the end of  last year and barely practiced during the playoffs.

For Nichushkin, you might remember the nasty foot injury he shared after the Avs won the Cup. He needed a wheelchair at the parade because he couldn’t walk. That didn’t prevent Colorado from giving him a massive contract this offseason, and rightfully so. He was huge in the playoffs, including four goals and two assists against the Lightning in the Final. Bednar provided an update on him yesterday.

That seems like a fair plan. Again, making sure the foot is healthy and 100 percent is paramount. If that takes a little time, then so be it.

The only other Avs not on the ice Thursday morning are Darren Helm (lower-body injury) and Josh Manson (personal reasons). Those are worth monitoring, but hopefully neither is a long-term situation.

The Avalanche will also practice on Friday and Saturday at Family Sports, and fans are welcome to attend. The preseason gets going on Sunday with two games. One in Minnesota against the Wild and one at Ball Arena against Vegas, with the Avs splitting their squads.

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