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Bednar: Landeskog 'not close' to participating in practice

Michael Martin / National Hockey League / Getty

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog attended team meetings Tuesday and watched practice from the bench.

His coach, however, says he's “not close” to becoming a participant.

The 31-year-old Landeskog had cartilage replacement surgery on his right knee last May and is missing a second straight season. The Avalanche have one more regular season contest — Thursday against Edmonton — before starting a first-round playoff series with Winnipeg.

“Nothing’s really changed with him," coach Jared Bednar said. "His focus and determination to do everything he can to get back to play is still the same as I’ve seen it before. He’s going be dedicated to what he needs to do in order to try and come back into our lineup.”

Bednar said last month the team had a potential return date in mind for Landeskog — sometime in the playoff range — but nothing more concrete. The Swedish standout hasn’t played since the Stanley Cup clincher at Tampa Bay on June 26, 2022.

Landeskog has been the team's captain for a dozen seasons. Colorado hasn't named a temporary captain in his absence. Instead, they've been relying on the veteran leadership of players such as Andrew Cogliano, along with the assistant captains like Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar.

“Landy’s been involved. He was in the meeting this morning,” Bednar said. "He’s had input in some of those meetings. Obviously, he's not around every day. Our leadership is done by committee because, if you look at our personnel, we’ve got a lot of really good players that played major roles with us that are highly committed to what we’re doing and trying to have success.

“They’re all vocal and they all lead in different ways.”

The Avalanche saw defenseman Samuel Girard skate Tuesday after entering the concussion protocol over the weekend. He left in the first period of Saturday's 7-0 loss to Winnipeg following a collision with teammate Ross Colton.

“Went through a pretty good skate, too, and started doing drills at the end,” Bednar explained. “So that’s a positive sign.”

Rantanen is returning to form in his return from the concussion protocol. He's played in the last two games, scoring a goal in a 4-3 overtime loss at Las Vegas on Sunday.

“Feel good,” said Rantanen, who has 103 points (41 goals, 62 assists) and is just two away from matching his career high (55 goals, 50 assists) set last season. “First time being in the protocol and, obviously, you never want to be in there. ... I got kind of lucky a little bit that I didn’t have any hard symptoms or anything like that.”

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