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Avalanche on pause from COVID-19 protocols, earliest next game Feb. 14

Avalanche on pause from COVID-19 protocols, earliest next
game Feb. 14 1

A day after having its first game postponement due to COVID-19 protocols, all things were quiet on the Avalanche front Friday as the NHL club closed its training facilities at Family Sports Center and Ball Arena.

The Avs will have at least four more games postponed, beginning Saturday when they were scheduled to begin a consecutive-night, two-game series against the Blues in St. Louis. Colorado’s two home games against Arizona next week are also postponed.

There is a chance the Avs will resume play Feb. 14 when they are scheduled to begin a two-game series at the Vegas Golden Knights. And there is a chance forwards Gabe Landeskog and Tyson Jost — who both remained on the COVID protocol list Friday — could play in that series, as well as a few of the six players on the injured list.

Forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Calvert and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, defensemen Erik Johnson and Devon Toews, and goalie Pavel Francouz, were out “week-to-week” and wouldn’t have made the trip to St. Louis this weekend, coach Jared Bednar has said.

Some of those players now will presumably have a chance to rejoin the lineup when the Avs play next. That’s the silver lining of the club’s suspension of play, although Jost and Landeskog might be in quarantine and the injured guys will have to seek their own treatment.

All other players will have to attempt to stay in shape by their own means — at least until the club’s facilities reopen.

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The NHL has postponed 26 games because of COVID protocols thus far, affecting all three divisions in the United States. No games have been postponed in the all-Canadian North Division. Seventeen of 24 U.S. teams have been affected.

On Friday, the NHL’s COVID protocols absence list included 17 players from the New Jersey Devils and seven from the Minnesota Wild, which was originally scheduled to complete a four-game stretch against the Avalanche on Thursday in Denver.

The league took steps to try to curb the COVID problem by ordering all teams to remove the glass behind the arena benches to improve airflow. Also, teams were told players and coaches cannot enter an arena earlier than 1 hour, 45 minutes before a game, and to practice more social distancing in locker rooms.

Stewart retires. On the day the American Hockey League began the 2021 season, Colorado Eagles executive Chris Stewart on Friday announced his retirement after 16 years with the organization. The Eagles are entering their third season as the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate.

Stewart, 59, was the Eagles’ first head coach (2003-2007) and led the Eagles to Central Hockey League championships in 2005 and 2007. As president and GM, he led the Eagles to ECHL championships in 2017 and 2018.

Stewart was forced to take a step back from the team in 2018 when the Avalanche took over the hockey side. He remained GM of the Eagles but only on the business side, with Eagles staffing at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.

“One of the greatest honors of my life is to be associated with the Colorado Eagles and this fantastic gentleman,” Eagles owner and CEO Martin Lind said of Stewart in a statement. “We all have an incredible indebtedness to this man for his tenure here.”

The Eagles open their season Feb. 13 at the San Diego Gulls.

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