Avalanche optimistic for ’23-24 despite losing Landeskog for entire season after knee surgery
Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog missed the entire 2022-23 season with a knee injury.
Now, the 30-year-old is out for the 2023-24 campaign after having successful knee surgery back on May 10.
“Gabe Landeskog is a really special player in the NHL and for our team, his importance transcends to the ice,” said Avalanche GM Chris MacFarland. “He’s a power forward that touches every conceivable game situation. In terms of replacing him, it’s really hard to replace your captain and what he does off the ice is as good of a player as he is on the ice. He’s a hard guy to replace. The narrative of knowing that he’s potentially out and how we handle that and knowing that, then we have some things that we have to look at. It potentially opens up avenues that weren’t available to us this past season.”
When looking at those avenues for this offseason, MacFarland said it’s important to balance making those decisions knowing that he can’t make some of those longer-term commitments with the hopes that Landeskog does return healthy and back in the lineup.
“(Avalanche president of hockey operations Joe Sakic), myself, and our scouts, as always, we’ll look at every opportunity to improve the team,” MacFarland said. “That will include both short- and long-term type of players. If there’s a player that we can potentially add that has term and he fits into what we’re trying to do from an age standpoint, and it makes sense, we’ll find a way to make it work. If it’s more shorter-term deals, then we’ll certainly have the ability to strike on that. We’re early in the process of that with our scouting meetings here coming up shortly on the pro side. Then, with the combine and the draft, I think things will potentially crystallize. I think everything will be on the table for us to try and improve but having X number of dollars because a player has a long-term injury is one thing. Gabe Landeskog is a really special player and while the knowledge of his situation maybe certainly helps, replacing him is an entirely different conversation.”
Given what is know now known about Landeskog’s knee injury, MacFarland said it was impressive what he did during the Stanley Cup title run in 2022.
“It was massive,” said MacFarland. “I think it says everything about Gabe. He’s a winner. He drives the emotional barometer of our team and in so many ways. We have great leadership in that room but Gabe is our captain. He’s been here for quite some time and the things he does that just not even on the ice but off the ice, that really helped us set an internal bar is incredible. A lot of it goes unseen but we know his importance. What he did last year and how he played and battled through something, we’ll never forget and obviously he was a huge piece of that championship run. He was incredible.”
After surgery, Landeskog said he’s in good spirits.
“It’s an uncommon procedure for elite athletes and for hockey players even more so,” Landeskog explained. “But basketball players have done them. I’ve actually spoken to Lonzo Ball who just had the same procedure done a couple of months ago. He shared some insight on what the first few weeks have been like. He’s a guy that I’ll be checking in with once in a while. It’s nice to relate to somebody and for somebody to know what I’m talking about and I know what he’s talking about going through certain steps of the process.”
Landeskog also said missing two full seasons is a lot to go through, but he’s planning to come out stronger in the end.
“I know it’s a long time away from the game,” Landeskog said. “But I’m confident in the player I am. I am confident in the athlete that I am. I know that I can get myself ready. You have to really break it down incrementally and take it one step at a time. That’s the only way to do it. For me, the hard times have been made a lot easier by the people I’ve surrounded myself with, my family, my friends, my teammates, the staff, the organization. It means a lot to me. It’s really helped me out throughout this whole process. It really has been great and that support is something I’m going to continue leaning on over the next year or so.
“We’ll just keep keep making the steps and keep making progress and I’m confident that I’m going to get there.”
— Matt Mackinder
(May 26, 2023)