Avalanche Rangers Hockey

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kurtis MacDermid (56) warms up before an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

DENVER - Colorado Avalanche tough guy Kurtis MacDermid was available for consultations on Monday.

MacDermid returned to practice at Ball Arena a day after most of his teammates. The Avalanche said he was one of five players still in COVID protocol when practices resumed following an extended holiday break.

MacDermid was out early with a pair of Avalanche defensemen in red non-contact jerseys, Bowen Byram and Ryan Murray. Toward the end of formal practice, the 6-foot-5, 233-pound blueliner was seen circling with J.T. Compher and Alex Newhook, fists full of jersey fabric, as the forwards practiced their jabs.

"There was a few of us just kind of asking him some questions,” Compher said. “Obviously he’s a very good fighter and it’s a big part of his role with our team."

Compher has less experience with only two fights in his 286-game NHL career, according to hockeyfights.com. He dropped the gloves with the Minnesota Wild’s Kyle Rau on Feb. 2 but the skirmish lasted just a few seconds.

MacDermid notably fought the New York Rangers’ Ryan Reaves on Dec. 14.

Byram returns

Byram wore a non-contact jersey Monday but participated heavily and stayed until the end.

Early in the season, the defenseman was among the NHL’s rookie scoring leaders. The fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft, Byram has appeared in two games since absorbing an elbow to the upper body Nov. 11. His last game was Dec. 1 at the Toronto Maple Leafs. The next day, coach Jared Bednar clarified that Byram didn’t have a concussion, but the issue was head-related.

“It seems like he’s been doing better over this break. He’s a day-to-day thing,” Bednar said Sunday. “If things go well with him then hopefully we can start ramping him up to be able to play too.”

Kuemper’s strange start

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper missed the Avalanche’s most recent game Dec. 16. He was supposed to start in net and was getting ready to do so before being told he’d tested positive for COVID-19 and couldn’t play.

Kuemper said he was fortunate to avoid symptoms and spent some time in his basement away from his wife.

“I was kind of locked in the dungeon,” Kuemper said. “Little bored, but other than that it was fine.”

Kuemper was also a late scratch in Toronto due to injury. He’s had to leave multiple games due to equipment problems.

“A lot of unique situations but that’s part of playing the game,” Kuemper said. “Unfortunately it’s happened in a short time span (this) year, but that’s behind me now. Just looking forward to getting back out there and playing.”

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