The Colorado Avalanche are affected by some of the updates the NHL has announced. They’re over three weeks into the season pause.
The Colorado Avalanche, like the rest of the NHL, is on Day 25 of the season pause. Players continue to practice social distancing and self-isolation. Two Avalanche players did test positive for COVID-19, but, according to captain Gabriel Landeskog, both are recovering well.
The league has released some updates, such as they are. Emily Kaplan, ESPN’s national reporter, discussed the news from the league. According to Kaplan, the NHL is still committed to completing the season in some fashion and running the playoffs.
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The key there for the Avalanche is that the NHL wants to somehow complete the regular season. Players are hesitant to have so much time off — especially since many of them don’t have access to ice rinks right now — and then jump straight into the most grueling form of hockey, the playoffs.
When the pause was announced, Colorado had played 70 games, leaving them 12 more. Of those, only one was not against a Western Conference team. Six of them were against Central Division teams, including the final game against the St. Louis Blues which was the likely determinant of the Western Conference champion.
Depending on how late the season was able to resume, Colorado might not be able to play all those games. I’d be satisfied with the six Central Division games.
Players were allowed to return to their off-season homes about a week into the pause. Travel restrictions and quarantine mandates vary widely. For the Avalanche, players come from eight different countries. I don’t know the exact number of players who returned, but I know they’re in at least five of those countries.
An interesting factor is that Sweden has not shut down. It’s still running how the United States was in the few days after the NHL pause — some social distancing, but many businesses still open, including bars and restaurants. Gabriel Landeskog did not return to Sweden — he’s in Toronto, his wife’s home city — but Andre Burakovsky did.
As I figured, the NHL is now starting to explore the idea of playing games — including playoff games — in empty buildings. Greg Wyshynski, also of ESPN, sees value in that proposal because it can then be an entirely “made for TV event.” The organizers would use music and other sound to fill the void.
I think it would be cool to see games played in empty arenas right up until the time it’s the Colorado Avalanche and the playoffs and I have to shake my white pom poms from last playoffs at my TV instead of the ice below. That said, the NHL is also exploring the idea of holding the playoffs at a neutral site.
Right now, different states and provinces have implemented their own mandates in reaction to the pandemic. That makes it difficult for the NHL to plan for even empty-arena games because the team alone violates some social distancing mandates. However, the NHL could choose a neutral location and hold the playoffs like they did the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
In a situation like that, all emphasis then would be on the broadcast of the games. It would almost certainly be national coverage, not Altitude TV. The first couple rounds of the playoffs would have had mostly Altitude TV, which is always my preference. But any Colorado Avalanche hockey would be welcome at this point.
Recently, Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets released video of himself skating at the team’s practice facility. As of right now, all team facilities are closed to the players. However, the exception is made for players who were injured and need to use the facilities for rehabilitation.
The Avalanche had five big-name players out with injuries:
Of those players, I know Rantanen returned to Finland, so he would be unable to use team facilities. I don’t know about the others except Kadri, who stayed in Colorado. He should be able to use team facilities to rehab.
Pretty much everything is up in the air. It all depends on the trajectories of the pandemic and government mandates. For the Colorado Avalanche’s sake, though, I hope we get to see a resumption of the season.