It was a day of dings at Family Sports Center, off bodies instead of the preferable posts.
Nathan MacKinnon took a puck to the face early Thursday and needed stitches. He returned sporting a gash beneath his lower lip.
“Tough way to start camp, but it’s all good,” MacKinnon said, joking that the goaltender responsible was cut from training camp.
New starting goalie Darcy Kuemper denied involvement, insisting he was on the other end of the ice. Kuemper said he’d been in Denver for about three weeks getting acclimated and meeting the people he’ll spend a large amount of time with the next seven months as they chase a Stanley Cup.
“Today was a lot of fun to actually get started and get to work,” Kuemper said.
Less fun for some. Tyson Jost appeared to have a run-in with a bench door and Alex Newhook was seen to late in the first session but stayed near the bench before proceeding with conditioning.
Group 2 avoided notable injury scares, though several players went to their hands and knees after sprints.
Makar in red
Star defenseman Cale Makar, a Norris Trophy finalist last year who then signed a six-year contract extension worth $54 million, came out for the first day of camp in a non-contact jersey.
It wasn’t to show solidarity with his defensive partner, Devon Toews, who worked out on a mostly empty rink between group sessions wearing the same shade of red. It’s an upper-body concern.
Coach Jared Bednar said Makar had some issues over the summer and underwent a procedure. He had a “minor tweak” recently.
He looked unencumbered during his session, and Bednar expects he'll play in the preseason.
“I don’t want to get him in contact drills where he’s getting hit and everything. It's just too early. There's no need for it,” Bednar said.
“There’s a lot of guys out there that are going to try and push and get noticed.”
Mikko Rantanen wore the alternate captain’s 'A' parts of last season with veteran Erik Johnson sidelined. As far as giving it back to the long-tenured defenseman, Bednar said Johnson doesn’t need the letter to lead.
They’ll have a group discussion and pick the alternates.
“We haven’t made any final decisions,” he said.
Not out of the woods
Avalanche newcomers Stefan Matteau and Roland McKeown are in COVID-19 protocol stemming from positive tests. The summer signees weren’t on the ice.
“I'm expecting to run into it from time to time,” Bednar said.
Bednar said Wednesday he expects the team to be fully vaccinated in the near future.