Ryan Graves back in Avs lineup tonight, Newhook to play soon


SAN JOSE, CALIF. – The Colorado Avalanche get back in action tonight against the San Jose Sharks, and one player who will return to the Avs lineup is defenseman Ryan Graves.

Ryan Graves missed Saturday’s game, one night after taking an errant elbow to the face from Sharks forward Evander Kane.

So….that’s about as much lineup information as I have for tonight’s game. Jared Bednar’s new policy with the media is to not give lineup info. on days of the game, such as the starting goalie, line combinations, etc. etc. I do believe it’ll be Philipp Grubauer in net tonight, however.

Yesterday, we told you about Alex Newhook being called up to the taxi squad by the Avs. Today, Bednar did reveal that he plans to play Newhook at some point in this five-game road trip. Bednar said Newhook won’t play tonight, because he wants to go over more video with him, talk over team systems, etc.

I asked Bednar what type of role he foresees with Newhook on this current team, and he said he’s still trying to figure that out. He said he doesn’t know whether he’d use him as a center or winger. He did say that he could be part of the special teams, both of them, that he’s used to that from college and from earlier days than that.

Man, right now I can see Newhook being anything from a third-line center to possibly a second-line winger – especially with Brandon Saad still out. Tyson Jost has played pretty well as a 3C this season, so I doubt Newhook would take that spot necessarily. Yet, it wouldn’t shock me either.

The Masters

Bednar said forward Logan O’Connor had surgery last week for his lower-body injury and, while he said he’s out longer-term, he seemed to indicate he might still have a chance of returning by the playoffs. Bednar said Bo Byram has been skating again, but that he does not have a “timetable on a return.”

Bednar said defenseman Jacob MacDonald is progressing nicely from his latest injury and could play soon. So, there’s some decent news there.

The weather here is UN-believable, 80 and sunny. I understand the temperature is about half that today in Denver. I will raise a fruity beverage in all your honor back home, folks, and thank YOU to the many people who have contributed to the Avalanche Travel Tip Jar. You help make these trips possible – with the first priority being covering the Colorado Avalanche of course! The playoffs are coming (hint, hint).

But seriously folks, thank you. My goal here is always: I’m gonna cover the Avs to the best of my ability, and go where I need to go to do that.

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Sunday Notes: Alex Newhook called up to Avs


Pittsburg, Calif. – Hello from Northern California, where I’ll be for the next few days, covering the Avs against the San Jose Sharks. The team is taking a flight today from Denver to San Jose, and on that plane will be Avs prospect Alex Newhook.

Newhook, 20, was called up to the Avs from the Eagles this morning, though the Avs say he’ll be on the taxi squad. It wouldn’t shock me if he somehow gets to play in a game or two on this road trip, however. In eight games for the Eagles, Newhook had five goals and four assists. Also called up by the Avs and put on the taxi squad were Dennis Gilbert, Jayson Megna and Jonas Johansson.

The Avs continue to be heavy favorites with the sportsbooks right now, still a favorite to win the Stanley Cup including with a BetMGM Colorado bonus code, as the Avs remain at +500 to win the Cup.

The Eagles lost 5-4 in overtime to Ontario Saturday night, and Newhook scored twice. Also scoring were Sampo Ranta and Ryan Wagner, while 2020 first-round pick Justin Barron had two assists.

The Masters

Alex Newhook could absolutely still be a player for the Avs in the postseason, I think anyway. His skill level is very high end and the fact that he had such a strong showing in the eight games playing against grown men, pro players, is a great sign that maybe he can handle playing at the NHL level already.

If Brandon Saad isn’t ready to go for the start of the playoffs, I could easily see Alex Newhook grabbing his spot in the lineup. Saad is a week into his 2-4 week injury absence, and the playoffs should start in about two weeks or so.

Some other Avs tidbits:

  • I hear Ryan Graves is doing well. I was a little surprised he didn’t play last night, but as always the Avs are pretty cautious about anything injury-wise. I think he’ll play Monday in San Jose, but that’s only my hunch and not official.
  • About Sam Girard: I do believe he was/is hurt from that collision into the boards from Friday night. I also believe that maybe the Avs just said to themselves, “You know what, let’s just give him a couple weeks of rest before the start of the playoffs and not take any chance of him getting re-injured. The Avs really need to go into the playoffs as healthy as possible, and taking a chance with Sam getting hurt in these final games just might not be worth the risk.
  • Conor Timmins really played well in the last two games against the Sharks. That takes some of the pressure off of losing Girard for a while.
  • I think two weeks for Sam is a relief to all involved, right? Could have been much worse, the way he went into the boards legs first.
  • The Avalanche is 14-0-1 in its last 15 games at Ball Arena, tied for the second-longest home point streak in franchise history.

    LONGEST HOME POINT STREAKS, FRANCHISE HISTORY

    17 -Jan. 20–Apr. 6, 2003 (14-0-2-1)

    15 -Mar. 10, 2021 – present (14-0-1)

    15 -Mar. 1–May 3, 1995 (13-0-2)

    14 -Nov. 19, 1983–Jan. 21, 1984 (11-0-3)

    12 -Dec. 27, 1999–Feb. 3, 2000 (9-0-3-0)

  • Pierre-Edouard Bellemare appeared in his 500th NHL game, becoming the second French player to play in 500 NHL contests. Antoine Roussel (554 games) is the other. Bellemare is the third French-born player to reach the milestone, joining Roussel and Paul MacLean (719), who was born in France but is Canadian.

  • Thanks to some who have chipped in to the Avalanche Travel Tip Jar. The more I get, the more I can cover this team on the road. Playoffs are coming up too (hint, hint). To donate, it’s easy by clicking here.
  • I expect Philipp Grubauer to start Monday’s game here against the Sharks. Remember, though: Jared Bednar isn’t giving out any more lineup information on game days. We have to wait until the lineup sheet comes out before games to know now.
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Mega Avs Notebook: Martin Kaut called up


Getting to this meaty notebook a bit late, as Mrs. Dater is out of town and my hair has been on fire trying to be Chef Gordon Ramsey and Mr. Goodwrech around here. So, the Avs returned to practice today, and here are all the tidbits:

  • Martin Kaut called up to the Avs from the Colorado Eagles. He’s on the trip and may play starting tomorrow night in the city of the Gateway Arch.
  • That’s, St. Louis.
  • Jared Bednar said he’s gotten a lot of good feedback on “Kauter” from the Eagles, and deserved the callup.
  • I’m gonna go ahead and bet Kauter is in the lineup for this game, especially with Mikko Rantanen out.
  • The good news on Rants: he didn’t actually test positive for Covid. He was likely just exposed to someone who had it.
  • But, if all goes well, Bednar said, Rantanen could return toward the end of this trip.
  • Avs had their schedule rejiggered by the NHL today, and basically the next four games are these, barring something else that messes it up: At St. Louis tomorrow, Sat. and Mon. Then, at Vegas on Wednesday.
  • That game between Avs and Blues on Monday was supposed to have been an Avs game in Vegas,  but that game has been postponed to May 10.
  • I’ll be in Vegas for the game Wednesday. I was going to cover the game Monday there too, but I guess I’ll have to pass the time studying my Bible that night instead. I’m also slated to cover the games in San Jose early next month. Thanks for your Tip Jar donations that help make these things easier. You wanna chip in too? I won’t stop you. I’ll be game-planning travel for the playoffs soon too.
  • Bednar strongly indicated that Devan Dubnyk will start tomorrow.
  • Bednar said that Philipp Grubauer may still be out of action another 10-14 days. I thought he could come off the Covid list sooner, and may he will, but that’s the time frame the coach said.
  • Bednar said Patrik Nemeth will play tomorrow.
  • Nemeth said he’s “really excited” to be back with the team, and that because the Avs still have their core group of guys around from when he last played here, he thinks it’ll make for a lot easier transition.
  • Bednar said he hopes “George Floyd and his family can now find some peace” after yesterday’s guilty verdict.
  • Bednar said Bo Byram is working out, but hasn’t skated with the team yet. He isn’t going on this long road trip either.
  • Looking at Nemeth on the Zoom call, he looked like he had noticeably less body fat than when he was last here. Looks like he’s in damn good shape, far as I could tell.
  • Bednar said the condition of the ice at Ball Arena for practice today was not good. He seemed to indicate it might have been partially responsible for a less-than-impressive practice.
  • Bednar, when asked if he was bothered that his team was now in second place, largely because his team hasn’t been able to play any games lately and Vegas has, said:
The Masters
  • Bednar said he hasn’t fully decided on his 18 skaters for tomorrow.
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Sunday CHN Puck Links: Avs hopeful of no more Covid cases


Happy Sunday to all. We’re into Day 3 of another Covid pause with the Avalanche, and it’s likely that the Vegas Golden Knights will tie or pass the Avs in points by the time they play their next scheduled game, Thursday in St. Louis. Yet, the Avs will have some games in hand on Vegas by then. The games next week in Vegas – should they be played – are looming large.

Colorado Hockey Now will be there, and thanks to several of you who have contributed to the Avalanche Travel Tip Jar for such initiatives. I have an Airbnb a block from the strip, at a reasonable rate.

There were no new Avs players added to the NHL’s Covid-19 protocol list on Saturday, after two straight days where there were. There remain three players – Bo Byram, Philipp Grubauer and Joonas Donskoi – still on the list as of Sunday morning. I’ll update this when the new list comes out in a couple of hours.

UPDATE: No new Avs players were added to the list.

The Avs, who received vaccinations last Monday, are cautiously hopeful that will be the last of their players to test positive. All three players are here in Denver, and I haven’t been told of anything worrisome about their current health. Let’s hope that stays that way.

The Masters

To some links:

Finally, old friend Adam Foote and his wife, Jennifer, took in today’s Devils-Rangers game in New Jersey. Their son, Nolan, made his NHL debut for the Devils:

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Avs Travel Diary: Some thoughts from a lonely San Francisco airport


There’s lonely…and then there’s the pacing-around-the-terminals-of-San-Francisco-International-Airport-at-2-in-the-morning kind of lonely.

I find myself in the latter of situations, trying to pass the time as I wait to pick up my rental car at 5 a.m., at which point I will drive it four hours directly to South Lake Tahoe to catch a hockey game I hear is happening over there.

Indeed, I am in town for the weekend — on behalf of Colorado Hockey Now, and you, our loyal subscribers — covering the NHL’s latest outdoor spectacle, featuring the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights, live from the 18th fairway of the famed Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, mere feet away from the shoreline of one of America’s largest lakes. I have yet to see it with my own two eyes, but by all accounts, the setting looks absolutely breathtaking. 

While it may lack the pomp-and-circumstance and all of the fanfare that usually comes with any NHL outdoor event, there’s something to romanticize about this one being just the boys, playing hockey, out in the wilderness — just as our ancestors intended it. 

We’ll get to the hockey game later, but back to this airport for a moment. Allow me to set the scene real quick.

I find myself nestled somewhere between Terminals 1 and 2, maybe 3(?) — I couldn’t tell you, honestly. Rumor has it there are a few couches somewhere at or around Terminal 2, and the gameplan upon landing was to find this hidden ottoman oasis in hopes of catching at least a couple hours of shut-eye before departing to Tahoe.

As I write this, those odds are looking increasingly slimmer, as is the likelihood I’ll get much sleep at all, if any. Oh well. I’ve pulled all-nighters before — what’s one more, right? REM cycle be damned! I’m young; I’ll recover.

My cheap Frontier flight out of Denver International left at 10:04 p.m. on Friday — late, I know. That’s most likely the reason why it was only a $100 round-trip…and that’s also the reason I find myself landing in San Francisco and not the decidedly much more proximal Reno-Tahoe International Airport. What can I say, I like to keep things cheap.

So cheap, in fact, that I took it upon myself to slum it in the San Fran airport for a few hours, rather than renting a hotel room for the night. There really was no point in renting a room for another $50-$100 just to stay there for just a couple of hours. So, now here I am, facing the music.

Seriously, where are those damn couches?

The Masters

I can’t say I’ve ever been in an airport this late, or rather, early, I suppose. To say it’s lonely might be putting it a little lightly. As I walk from gate to gate and make the rounds, human interaction is few and far between, and the only signs of life are the few weary travelers attempting sleep like contortionists in the seats at their gates. I think I’ve now become friends with the janitorial staff, who make the rounds every half hour or so. We exchange affectionate, understanding head nods, suggesting we both hate the present situations we currently find ourselves in. Misery loves company, after all.

Nothing is open, and the pre-flight beers have now dried my throat and cottoned my mouth — I would give anything for a bottle of water right now.

OK, I’ve walk the perimeter of this airport at least three times now…I’m starting to think these couches don’t exist. 

Whatever, who needs couches anyway. I think I’ve found my residence for the remainder of my stay at Hotel SFO Airport — it comes in the form of an abandoned food court. Here, I’ve found a couple of rotund, half-moon cushioned booths. It’s a decidedly better option than than the dusty linoleum airport floor. I’ll take it.

Now it’s time to fashion my backpack into some semblance of a pillow to lay my weary head. I pull my mask over my eyes like a MacGyvered-sleepmask to protect me from the horrific, blinding airport LEDs overhead, blatantly ignoring the automated PA announcer’s wish to “Please cover your nose and mouth while in the airport,” a command that goes off loudly like clockwork every 10 or so minutes — something that I’m sure won’t help my hopes of catching any sleep tonight. Seriously, can we turn it down just a touch? This isn’t a nightclub.

Well here goes nothing. Here’s to hoping for an hour or two of shut-eye.

See you at Lake Tahoe for the, you know, game.

As always, any Colorado Hockey Now subscribers who want to chip in to the Avalanche Travel Tip Jar, we won’t stop you. 95 cents of every dollar goes to fund travel to Avs games, and 5 cents goes to donations to the Thornton Food Bank. Link here

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Avalanche Mailbag: Whither Martin Kaut, and do the Avs need an enforcer?


Let’s do an Avalanche Mailbag here. Been a while since the last one. I want to catch y’all up on some site stuff first though and a couple other housekeeping items.

My colleague Scott “Mac Daddy” MacDonald is going to be making his maiden voyage on behalf of Colorado Hockey Now travel this weekend, to Lake Tahoe to cover the Avs outdoor game against the Golden Knights. Normally, I would go to something like that, but Mrs. Dater is going to Mexico the same day as the game (Sat.) for a girls week, with her mom and a couple others. I’ll stay in Thornton and hold down the fort with young Thomas Dater.

So, Scott is going to hit the road for his first Avs road trip ever. He’ll be providing a fun (I hope) travel diary of sorts, and will have pictures and observations that nobody else will have.

Thank you to several of you for chipping in on the Avs Travel Tip Jar for this. Scott is going to be taking a late, late flight Friday night, then driving three hours to Tahoe, staying one night in a hotel after the game and coming back fairly early Sunday morning. Even for that short amount of time, that still ran a few hundred bucks, so your Tip Jar donations were appreciated. And, hey, if you still want to chip in don’t let us stop you. Link to chip in is here. On Friday, I will be taking the accumulated 5% of your donation proceeds and making a big donation to the Thornton Food Bank. I’ll show pictures. It’s always one of the highlights of my life, being able to give like that and I have you to thank. I will be adding to the donation above and beyond the 5%.

I will also hit the road starting next week for games in San Jose. Why go to games, you ask, when fans aren’t in the stands and you can’t go into the locker rooms? Well, because, that’s why. I always think it’s better to be on the scene for games, if you can afford it. We are economical in our travel, now and forever. No more hotels with doors to the outside, though.

I also wanted to, again, announce that CHN has a partnership now with SuperBook, the legendary Las Vegas sportsbook that has now ventured into Colorado.

And, man do I have a couple of offers for you:

  • First-time depositors get a free, matching first bet up to $300. If you lose your first bet, up to that $300 amount, you get all that money put right back into your account to bet any way you want.
  • If you don’t take advantage of this next offer, you’re saying no to an easy, easy $50. As a special thank you to Avs fans and bettors at SuperBook (and this applies to existing members, not just first-timers) SuperBook Colorado is giving three goals on the Avs at +100 for Saturday’s game in Lake Tahoe. That means: if you take the Avs at +3 goals at +100, and say you bet $50, you will win your $50 back plus another $50 on top of it – provided the Avs don’t lose by four goals to the Golden Knights. I’d say that’s a pretty good bet, wouldn’t you? Take advantage of this offer by clicking here.

OK, on to the Mailbag:

J., first off, Kaut has been hurt of late. Don’t know exactly what’s wrong, but a representative from the Eagles told me Kaut didn’t play the first couple of games because of injury. The Eagles went 0-1-1 in their first two games, at Bakersfield. Greg Pateryn scored goals in both games, including one late in the second game that sent it to OT. Colorado played their third game Wednesday night in Ontario, Calif., which is happening as I write this. Kaut was not in the lineup.

As for Bowers, he just hasn’t been given a chance yet this season with the big club, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that. He drew good marks from coach Jared Bednar in training camp. We probably won’t see Bowers unless other injuries happen, or if management just wants to see him for a game or two. But in a condensed schedule, and a dogfight to win the division, the Avs can’t be a footloose and fancy free with call-ups as they might in an 82-game season.

David, unfortunately, Girard’s iron-man streak did end because of that. Time to start a new one. He probably won’t play until next week against either Vegas or Arizona.

As for Makar: I mean, is it a thing that makes anyone happy, these little dings that keep him out? No. If you’re asking if I’m worried he’s kind of becoming an injury-prone guy, I would say I’m not too worried about that – yet. I think, as he gets even older, stronger and savvier, he’ll (hopefully) know how to take care of his body better.

It’s a joke at my expense and I’ve told this before, but: I was short on clean clothes at the end of a road trip in my rookie year, 1995-96, and was in San Jose on like a Sunday afternoon when not much was open downtown. Pierre Lacroix invited the media out to dinner that night and I didn’t want to look like a bum with dirty clothes, so I went out searching for a new outfit. The only thing open where I could buy clothes of any kind was an Army/Navy store. I somehow thought I pair of slack that had a very purplish color looked snazzy, so I bought them. Not only did I go to dinner in them that night and drew a funny stare from Pierre, but I wore them to the morning skate the next day against the Sharks.

I went into the Sharks room to get some notes in there before the Avs’ skate, and Sharks veteran Marty McSorley took one look at me and said “Bad pants, man.”

The Avs were unmerciful on me. Adam Deadmarsh laughed and laughed and wanted to get the boys together to throw me in the shower with them on. Joe Sakic labeled me “Barney” and that name stuck much of the rest of the year. I threw the pants out when I got home.

Sigh, well….it’s still a fuzzy situation regarding Francouz. I think he’s still at least a couple weeks away, at best. I think the Avs are going to try and limp through with just Grubauer and Hunter Miska/Adam Werner until then. Miska currently is on the Covid list, so it’s Werner as backup right now. This is not an ideal situation. If Sakic has to go looking around for goalie help, I’m wondering if Devan Dubnyk might not be an option? You’ve got to think the Sharks don’t have too much faith they’ll make the playoffs, and maybe might part with Doobie? I know many of you just gagged at that prospect, but, hey, he’s got quite a bit more experience than a Miska or Werner.

Dubnyk has only this year left on his contract, at a $4.3 million cap hit. If Francouz has to stay on LTIR, maybe the Avs could afford to bring him in. Maybe the Sharks would take some of that salary off their hands too.

Yes, I think Justus Annunen is the goalie of the future, but probably not for another two to three years. In the meantime, you’ve got to start thinking hard about trying to re-sign Grubauer to an extension. He will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and he’s been one of the best goalies in the league so far.

Make no mistake, Grubauer would command a pretty nice price right now. His cap hit this season is $3.3 million. If he keeps having the kind of season he’s having, he’ll probably get into the $5 million range as a UFA. If he leaves for nothing, uh…we’ll have a problem. Maybe Annunen would be put on a faster track if that’s the case.

Forwarded to Avs PR.

For me, this is a tough question, because I do believe that big, intimidating guys still matter in hockey. But you’ll get plenty of pushback on that nowadays too. I mean, an enforcer has to be able to skate and play the game too. Ryan Reaves of Vegas is probably the best “enforcer” in the league now, and he does create space for his teammates out there and gives them some swagger. Would I like to see the Avs get a bit bigger and nastier still? Yeah.

I thought they were pushed around a bit too much in the Dallas series. Yet, you can’t have some slug out there either, as a liability. It’s a tough call, but I do think the Avs need a badass type on the team still.

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Avs Off-day Notebook – and why I had to call 911 today


LOS ANGELES – I’ve had better starts to days than the one today, Day 5 of a seven-day Avs road trip. Out of a sound sleep at about 8:15 a.m. in my hotel here, an inexpensive hotel where the doors open to the outside, a knock at the door. I wake up quickly over things like that, so pretty fast I said loudly “Hello?” No answer.

I get up to look through the peephole and see three people standing there. They look young, with coats on, masks on. Of course, everybody wears masks now today so…

I say “Hello?” again. No answer. I’m already thinking the worst now. Then, a loud knock on the door with what was some kind of hard, blunt instrument. Was it a baseball bat? A billy club? Some brass knuckles? Guess I’ll never know. By that point, I grabbed my phone and dialed 911. As I’m talking to the 911 operator, I still see the three people outside. Looked like two guys and one female. They seemed young, but that’s about the best I could tell. The guy standing closest to the door started talking on a phone of his own.

A few seconds later – maybe 20-30 – they were gone. About 10 minutes later, cops were at my door, looking around for the people I described. That’s the last I know/knew of anything. I checked out, and went for a drive for a couple hours, to the downtown LA area, and around Sunset Boulevard.

Hey, when I thanked all of you who contributed to the Avs Travel Tip Jar for this trip, I meant it. I promised to stay in low-cost digs, not to waste money needlessly. But, yeah, one pledge moving forward: No more hotels where the door opens to the outside, where anyone at all can stand right outside it and beat on it with hard objects and not answer you when you call out to them. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous for a few seconds there.

The drive around LA was fun though. I even checked something off my bucket list in that time, stopping to snap a couple pictures of the Brady Bunch House, which was completely renovated by the HGTV channel last year to exactly match the house from the TV show – of which I was/am a major fan.

OK, on to some Avs off-day notes:

  • I expect Philipp Grubauer to start Sunday’s game against the Ducks, though that isn’t official. The team had the day off from all hockey activities, so not much information from team headquarters about anything. Jared Bednar has now had his hand forced a bit with the injury to Pavel Francouz. He probably would have played Francouz in two of the Avs’ six games by now, but he’s not available tomorrow and going with Hunter Miska probably just isn’t in the cards. Everything is magnified in this shortened season. Every win and loss counts nearly one-third more than it would have in an 82-game season. Coming home 3-3-0 isn’t going to look and feel so good to Bednar, if he loses a game with the inexperienced Miska in net again. I have no doubt that Grubauer doesn’t mind the extra work. I mean, it’s not like he and any other hockey player have been overworked in these last 10 months.
  • We’ll see if Andre Burakovsky can play tomorrow, but it doesn’t sound like it. The Avs almost always want players to have a full practice before they get back into the lineup, and there was no practice Saturday.
  • If Bo Byram keeps playing like he did Friday night, someone who has been used to being in the top six for the past year or so is going to have to sit. Could that be Ryan Graves? I don’t know. But I do know that Graves is off to a slow start, and the Avs have already traded one veteran to help make room for Byram.
  • Anaheim has won its last six games following an overtime game. Something for you bettors to keep in mind.
  • It was reported elsewhere that the Avs kicked the tires with Columbus on what they might have wanted for Pierre Luc-Dubois, who was traded Saturday in a deal that sent Patrik Laine to the Blue Jackets. But if the Avs did at all, I believe it was a very brief conversation. The Avs fully expect Alex Newhook to at least contend for a second-line center spot starting next season.
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Avs open 2020-21 NHL season schedule Jan. 13 against Blues at Ball Arena


Well, the official Avs schedule is officially out, and…let’s just hope you’re a fan of Major League Baseball-style scheduling. As I reported about a week ago, the NHL season will somewhat resemble that of a baseball schedule, because of the coronavirus and the cost savings that can be achieved by playing more than one game at a time between teams in their respective cities. So, starting on Jan. 13, the Avs will start the season schedule with a game against the St. Louis Blues at Ball Arena (it’s not the Pepsi Center anymore remember) and the next game on the docket will be…the St. Louis Blues, on Jan. 15.

Here, folks, is the entire 56-game Avs season schedule:

2020-21 Avalanche Regular Season Schedule

Home Games Bold  –  Dates Subject to Change

JANUARY

 Wed     Jan. 13      ST. LOUIS

Fri        Jan. 15      ST. LOUIS

Tue       Jan. 19       at Los Angeles

Thu       Jan. 21       at Los Angeles

Fri         Jan. 22       at Anaheim

Sun       Jan. 24       at Anaheim

Tue       Jan. 26      SAN JOSE

Thu      Jan. 28      SAN JOSE

Sat        Jan. 30       at Minnesota

Sun       Jan. 31       at Minnesota

FEBRUARY

 Tue       Feb. 2        MINNESOTA

Thu      Feb. 4        MINNESOTA

Sat        Feb. 6         at St. Louis

Sun       Feb. 7         at St. Louis

Tue       Feb. 9        ARIZONA

Thu      Feb. 11      ARIZONA

Sun       Feb. 14       at Vegas

Tue       Feb. 16       at Vegas

Sat        Feb. 20      VEGAS

Mon     Feb. 22      VEGAS

Thu       Feb. 25       at Arizona

Sat        Feb. 27       at Arizona

 MARCH

Mon      Mar. 1        at San Jose

Wed      Mar. 3        at San Jose

Fri        Mar. 5       ANAHEIM

Sat        Mar. 6       ANAHEIM

Mon     Mar. 8       ARIZONA

Wed     Mar. 10     ARIZONA

Fri        Mar. 12     LOS ANGELES

Sun       Mar. 14     LOS ANGELES

Thu      Mar. 18     MINNESOTA

Sat        Mar. 20     MINNESOTA

Mon      Mar. 22      at Arizona

Tue       Mar. 23      at Arizona

Thu      Mar. 25     VEGAS

Sat        Mar. 27     VEGAS

Mon     Mar. 29     ANAHEIM

Wed     Mar. 31     ANAHEIM

 APRIL

Sat        Apr. 3        ST. LOUIS

Mon      Apr. 5         at Minnesota

Wed      Apr. 7         at Minnesota

Fri         Apr. 9         at Anaheim

Sun       Apr. 11      at Anaheim

Fri        Apr. 16      LOS ANGELES

Sun       Apr. 18      LOS ANGELES

Tue       Apr. 20      ST. LOUIS

Thu       Apr. 22      at St. Louis

Sat        Apr. 24      at St. Louis

Mon      Apr. 26      at Vegas

Wed      Apr. 28      at Vegas

Fri        Apr. 30      SAN JOSE

 MAY

 Sat        May 1        SAN JOSE

Mon      May 3         at San Jose

Wed      May 5         at San Jose

Fri         May 7         at Los Angeles

Sat        May 8         at Los Angeles

Some thoughts: Yeah, and along with a baseball schedule, I hope you like seeing just the same seven opponents over and over and over. That’s just the way it will be this year, folks, because of the virus. Hey, I think it’ll be fun. It’ll be like a season of the old Original Six days, only it’ll be the Original Eight now. The Avs will play in the West Division, with the top FOUR teams in points making the playoffs. From there, they will play within the division until the conference finals, when the winners of the Central and West will play to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, against the winner of the East and North Divisions.

The North Division, of course, is the all-Canadian team division.

Unfortunately, fans will not be allowed in Ball Arena for the season, at least not in the beginning. The Avs/NHL are reserving the right to add fans should conditions allow. Fans will also not be allowed to watch practices, at Family Sports Center. I know a lot of you will be greatly disappointed by that. Hopefully, that will change as the Avs season schedule moves along too.

As for us here at Colorado Hockey Now: We will be allowed into the buildings for home and road games, morning skates and team practices. And, I and my colleagues at the site, including Scott MacDonald, Reagan Smith and Ashley Glover, will work tirelessly to bring you the best coverage of the team as we possibly can.

That means going on the road for most, if not all, the games. You know my philosophy: I want to be in the building where the Avs are playing, period. I spent 50 straight days in Edmonton covering the team in the playoffs, when no one else in Denver would do it. Thanks to many of you and your generous donations to the Avs Travel Tip Jar, you made that easier for me to do.

So, here’s the pitch again: If you want to guarantee that Colorado Hockey Now will have a presence at many/most, if not all, Avs road games, you can donate to the Tip Jar by clicking here (there’s also a link just to the right on this page). A reminder: 95 cents of any dollar donated goes to strictly Avs travel, and the other 5 percent goes to me buying food to donate on your behalf at the Thornton Food Bank – an organization that does great work and really helps people out who need it most.

Thank you for anything you give. As many of you know, I do not frivolously waste any money when it comes to travel. It’s low-budget all the way, but, hey, that’s kind of how I like it too. No frills works just fine for me. I’ve been in all the fancy hotels in this country, and it’s way overrated. Give me a cheap Airbnb or a Motel 6 and I’m just fine.

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On the Road Again with the Avs: What a difference 25 years makes


BUENA PARK, Calif. – My first-ever regular-season road trip with the Avs was to Los Angeles. I still remember everything about it.

Oct. 7, 1995, Avalanche at Los Angeles Kings, second game in the history of the new team in Denver. I was there for the Denver Post, a game won by Wayne Gretzky and the Kings, 4-2 at the Great Western Forum, aka the Fabulous Forum. Gretzky, I remember, played with a silver stick that gleamed when angled just right.

I remember Claude Lemieux making fun of my shoes (I bought new ones right away). I remember Pierre Lacroix looking at me with a bit of scorn (I’d just written about how some of his players were unsigned, RIP Pierre). I remember going into the Forum and thinking “wait, this is it? 

It was kind of a dump, really.

The Avalanche stayed at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport, aka as the LAX Marriott. Man, if those walls could talk. I vividly remember my first time getting off the airplane at LAX and looking up at the palm trees and thinking, “Holy (bleep), I’m actually in Los Angeles.” I’m a kid from small-town New Hampshire and Vermont, who grew up on the Beverly Hillbillies and Johnny Carson and the bluish glow from late-night TV, all of which seemed to come from this fantastical place called LA and Hollywood. Games on TV from the Fabulous Forum, all were on late at night and all seemed of science fiction. How is it that a game can start at 10:30 my time, yet only be 7:30 where it’s at? Where is the snow and the greasy faces of fans who had just put in a long day of physical labor, like it seemed every Boston team’s fan had?

Did this place, Los Angeles, even exist? Would I ever get there? I’m not even kidding when I tell you that I didn’t really know what an airplane really was back then. I didn’t really know what a credit card was, or what a hotel was. You mean, you stay in this room that’s not yours and you just get to do what you want, basically, in it?

Well, that part isn’t true. I stayed in many hotel rooms while selling timesharing as a college kid, on summer and winter breaks, on Cape Cod in the mid-to-late ’80s. But let’s just say, by 1995, it had been a good eight years or so since I’d last stayed in one.

The more mystical place, in my mind, was California. Los Angeles.

LA.

All the times I’ve been here – and it’s probably been about 75-80 times by now – I never feel quite like my actual self. I always feel like…I’m in LA.

It is never normal. I feel like my actual self a lot when I’m in other cities, like in St. Louis on a Thursday night in the regular season. But whenever I’ve been in Los Angeles, I feel like I’m in some ethereal world where oranges really do grow on trees and where it really is 75 degrees on a late January day, like it was today. It’s always been somewhat out-of-body for me here, which leads me to tonight’s column.

I’m not actually in LA tonight, but in Buena Park, about six miles from Disneyland, about 45 minutes from the Staples Center, where the Avs will play the Kings tomorrow night. I’m staying here at a Days Inn, for a total cost of $350 for seven nights, and that includes the tax. I’m here partially because of you, some of my best subscribers, who also chip in to the Avs Travel Tip Jar.

I think I’m one of the first sportswriters to have done this – basically started a Go Fund Me for travel to cover a team. That $350 has already been covered by several of you, and I want to thank some of them personally here, but only by their twitter handles, people like @aaronmcali, @fletchmonger and some others by the names of Janice and James and Lorene, who didn’t want their full names used. (And yes you too, mom. Thank you, for everything).

I can’t believe your generosity here. I can’t believe you’re helping me pay for this road trip. Just like I can’t believe how many of you helped pay for my 50 days in Edmonton last summer to cover every single Avs playoff game.

I hope to make it up to every one of you somehow. That sounds way too grandiose though, I know. I hope I’m not sounding a bit too precious here, maybe pandering for false likes on Twitter. Just know my best way of paying it back, at least in the workaday sense, is to just go to the four games in SoCal this week – two against the Kings and two against the Ducks – and try to cover the hell out of them, as best I can in a Covid-19 landscape.

I can’t go into the Avs locker room, and I can’t go to the morning skates here in locked-down Cali. But I can go to the games themselves, and I know that gives me a perch that should be truly cherished, much more than the days when sportswriters like me took everything for granted (wait, what, where are my between-period quote sheets????)

No, I was never that bad. I’ve always thought this was a pure miracle, doing what I’m doing now and what I did 25 years ago. And, I’m as frugal now as I was then.

This a true story: my first Ave game I ever covered in Anaheim was Nov. 15, 1995. Again, I CAME FROM A SMALL TOWN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, WHERE EVERYONE WAS POOR AND WE ALL COUNTED OUR PENNIES.

I had a Denver Post corporate travel account, back when the paper was making about $200 million a year. But I just didn’t really know anything still back then, and I thought that you had to look for the very best deal on things like this. I stayed in a $30 a night EconoLodge in Anaheim for that game, a room that had a door to the outside and a flimsy lock and plenty of noise from the outside. I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. I used to take airport shuttle busses where they stopped about six times before they got to your hotel, just to save a few bucks.

Come to find out: big-timer writers like Woody Paige and Mike Monroe and even my own sports editor cursed me out and made fun of me as a dumb hayseed for such frugality in covering the Avs.

“You’re in the bigger time now, kid. We can afford a night at the local Marriott.”

Woody, I remember, got really pissed at me. I didn’t know. I thought anything over $100 a night for a hotel room was scandalous.

For most of that first season, when I wasn’t actually flying with the team and staying at their hotel at the team rate, I still took airport shuttles that took about two hours but shaved off about 10 bucks off what a cab would cost. I stayed at country hotels because I thought my paper would go out of business if I didn’t.

Ha ha, stupid me. The owners of the Denver Post are still raking in millions in profit every year, and here I am at a Days Inn in Buena Park, working for my own site now.

But I couldn’t be happier. In the same sense as when I got off that plane 25 years ago, I’m still living in a dream. I’ve had the big, fat, corporate credit card and I’ve had the skin-of-your-teeth existence. Hey, the former was great, no complaints there. But none here, either, in my perfectly good Days Inn room, with full cable, running water and a locked door (to the outside).

This is more the real me.

Thank you to all of you, and I can’t wait to get to the rink tomorrow.

Here is a shot I took today off the Manhattan Beach Pier, which is an awesome place that I hope every one of you gets to visit some day soon. I’ll never forget my first time here in 1995 (after that first road trip to LA, for the single Avs game). I don’t know how I came across this place, but I did somehow and have been back ever since.

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Bo Byram must quarantine before joining Avs


Bo Byram will board a plane for Denver on Thursday morning, after spending Wednesday at his parents’ home in British Columbia.

Once he touches down in the Mile High City, however, the top Avs defensive prospect will have to quarantine for a week, because of US-Canada Covid-19 regulations.

That news was broken today by Byram’s father, who appeared on a local B.C. radio station to talk about his son’s disappointment at Tuesday’s Canada loss to the U.S. in the gold medal game of the World Juniors in Edmonton. Click on the link in my tweet below to listen to the talk.

So, that means no Bo Byram on opening night against the Blues, but I don’t think we would have seen Bo Byram play that night anyway. think the earliest we’ll see Bo play a game for the Avs is on that four-game L.A.-Anaheim swing, Jan. 19-24 (I’ll be there, did I mention there’s an Avs Travel Tip Jar?), where the Avs will have to play four games in six days.

After that? That’s all still to be determined. I think Byram will be on the taxi squad for the full year, but it’s also possible he’ll spend some time with the Colorado Eagles, after all the new regulations are ironed out with their own return-to-play plan.

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