Colorado Avalanche Get Nathan MacKinnon and Erik Johnson Back

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche players Nathan MacKinnon and Erik Johnson returned to the team on Monday, and both are ready to get the season underway.

The new Colorado Avalanche season is reaching its beginning. And, with Erik Johnson and Nathan MacKinnon returning on Monday, the Avs got two of their veteran forwards back.

The two players had a one hour video session on Sunday to get introduced to the new systems as well.

Both players are returning from the World Cup of Hockey, and where MacK had success, EJ was left wanting more.

Nathan MacKinnon Ready for NHL Competition

MacK learned a lot from his World Cup of Hockey experience, and he seems as confident as ever as he prepares for this coming NHL season:

Quick hits from the video:

  • MacK feels in mid-season form, saying he “had a good summer.”
  • MacK competing against the “world’s best” makes him a better player.
  • He was “rattled” when they were eliminated, but now he’s “focused” on Avs camp.
  • Bednar explains himself really well, and makes his expectations clear.
  • Bednar is going to demand a lot out of MacK which MacK “likes.”
  • MacK thinks this will be a “bounce back year” for the Avs.

It also looks like my big preseason question for MacKinnon has been answered:

Related Story: Would MacK be Better Power Winger than Center?

Related Story: Who Will Play Right Wing for Avs, MacK or Dutchy?

Now we just need to determine where Matt Duchene will play, but I imagine he’ll player center as well. It’s yet to be seen what this development will mean for Carl Soderberg, but he returns later this week, so an answer should be given there soon. Besides, that’s a topic for another article.

With Nathan MacKinnon returning, the Avalanche get one of their top centers back, and a little more continuity to their lineup. It seems like he’s ready to go this season, so hopefully we’ll see a consistent year out of MacK, and perhaps a career year.

Related Story: Will Nathan MacKinnon Have a Career Year?

Obviously that’s a question that needs to be answered at the end of the year. Nonetheless, everything seems to be setting up for MacK to have at it this year.

Anyway, there’s another player that returned from the World Cup as well, and his experience was a little different than Nathan MacKinnon’s.

Erik Johnson Ready for Big Role with Colorado Avalanche

Erik Johnson’s World Cup experience was definitely a disappointing endeavor. There were a lot of expectations for the USA team — as there always are in international play. Unfortunately, they showed up as duds in the tournament. More on that here:

Quick hits from the video:

  • EJ was “very disappointed” with the results of the tournament (obviously).
  • EJ not used to limited ice time, and “appreciates” what those minutes mean mentally.
  • The pace at the World Cup makes it a “seamless” transition to the NHL.
  • Team success needs to be the ultimate goal for the Colorado Avalanche, and EJ preaches that.
  • EJ wants to be one of key guys on back-end, and takes responsibility for last year’s performance.
  • Talked about the weird nature of having top-flight competition at the beginning of the year.

To me, Erik Johnson sounds like a player who is ready to wear the “A” for the Colorado Avalanche. He’s saying all the right things, and Bednar has already mentioned that he is going to re-evaluate the alternate captains, according to the Denver Post.

EJ also mentioned that the systems are very similar to what he was playing with John Tortorella at USA training camp. Torts coached at Columbus when Bednar was there as the AHL head coach — you know, the team that won the Calder Cup last year.

With Erik Johnson and Nathan MacKinnon returning to Colorado Avalanche training camp, and Semyon Varlamov, Carl Soderberg and Gabe Landeskog returning within the week, Jared Bednar is ready to get going.

Jared Bednar Giving No Players a “Shoe-in”

Even with his best NHL talent returning to the team, coach Bednar maintains that every player has to earn their ice time this year.

More on that here:

Quick hits from the video:

  • More “reps” are being give to players due to a smaller roster.
  • No veterans are going with the team to Minnesota on Tuesday.
  • Bednar wants to “evaluate” players that aren’t veterans, to see how they fit with the team.
  • The whole training camp is going to be about “evaluation.”
  • Bednar “loved” the way MacK played the wing during the tournament, but he’ll most likely play center.

Bednar is quickly finding a way to impress me. However, I need to remind myself to keep expectations low and honestly assess the play of the Colorado Avalanche when the season actually begins.

Nonetheless, the excitement in Avalanche territory is high right now, and Bednar contributes to that excitement a ton.

As I said in my last post about excitement, this is the time of year where I get giddy as a schoolboy.


There are actual real videos featuring players talking about things related to the Colorado Avalanche online now. Real videos.

Is there an adjustment period that hockey fans should be allowed to have for this sudden and quick lurch into preparing for the new season? Or, does this only feel sudden because of the World Cup of Hockey this year?

Do I really care? Nope, not really, not in the slightest actually.

Next: Avs Players Who Need to Step Up

It’s that time of year folks, when you can just tell people that you have a hockey addiction and they can either cope with it, or just, you know…

When Matt Duchene returns from his World Cup escapades, then I’ll know that it really has all begun. However, until then I’m just going to attempt to enjoy the return of hockey in the slowest and most methodical way I can muster.

It’s funny, you wait six months for it to return, hoping it will speed it’s entry, but it never does. Then, when it’s here, you all of the sudden feel like it could just slow down a bit. Or, maybe that’s just me.