The Colorado Avalanche didn’t play yesterday, but it was a day of new beginnings for at least two guys in the Avs lineup.
After matching the Calgary Flames‘ offer sheet for Ryan O’Reilly–which is common because most teams end up ponying up and matching the offer sheets–he was cleared medically to start practicing with the Avalanche again. He had been playing with the KHL Metallurg Magnitogorsk during the lockout (where Evgeni Malkin plied his trade while the NHL doors were closed too) and had even signed a two-year deal with them, although the contract did have the opt-out upon the lockout’s resolution. However, he did eventually terminate his Metallurg contract after the lockout ended. The reason was an ankle injury.
He returned to North America to heal and rehab his ankle, eventually taking to practice with the London Knights of the OHL–he’s from Clinton, which is only about an hour north of London as the crow flies–as he held out with the Avalanche for a new contract and eventually signed the Flames’ offer sheet. Then, of course, the Avs brass matched that offer while the team itself was busy taking on the Flames at home.
Today, he’s back with his Colorado teammates at the Family Sports Center in Centennial, wearing a blue practice sweater:
Now that he’s rehabbed his ankle, he’s been cleared and is practicing again, so he could very well find himself playing again soon. Next up for the Avs: the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 3 in Ohio.
Speaking of new beginnings: Matt Hunwick has become a first-time father. Adrienne Hunwick gave birth to a son, Henry Richard, at 2:09 p.m. on March 1. Congratulations to the Hunwicks!