DENVER — Nearly three months after their season was halted due to COVID-19, the Colorado Avalanche is back on the Pepsi Center ice.
"I got excited, it was good news for the first time in a long time," Avalanche center and captain Gabriel Landeskog said.
The Avs are in phase two of the NHL's "Return to Play" plan. The next step is team training camp on July 10, followed by a four-team round-robin tournament for seeding in the Western Conference before the postseason begins.
"Back at the Pepsi Center for the first time since March 11th," Landeskog said. "This is what they came up with, and it's as good as it's going to get. The world feels at times like it's upside down so why would the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs be any different, you know what I mean?"
Head Coach, Jared Bednar's team had won 7-of-10 games and were two points out of the No. 1 seed in the conference before the icing of play.
"Still us versus whoever, that kind of feeling, it's going to be important to get that feeling back as fast as possible," Landeskog said.
If there's a positive to the time off, it has given key players like Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Philipp Grubauer a chance to recover for the stretch run.
"It kind of levels the playing field with everyone getting healthy, now it's a matter of who's going to get off and running," Landeskog said.
Eventually, the Avalanche will hit the road for a hub city still to be determined. They hope they'll return with Lord Stanley's finest hardware, to celebrate a season unlike any other.
"Everything is a little bit different this year," Landeskog said. "We're just going to have to make the most of it and hope the fans can get behind it. Get as excited about it as I am because I'm excited to take a run at the Stanley Cup this year."