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Avalanche Returns To Practice

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
It almost feels like picking up a good book you had started, but were forced to put down for one reason or another. When you return to it, you may be a little lost at first and feel the need to re-read a few pages just to gain your bearings. Eventually, everything falls back into place.

Most members of the Colorado Avalanche returned to practice Wednesday afternoon following a 10-day layoff for the Olympic Break.

If you’re like most other people, you’ve been distracted over the last 10 days by the non-stop television coverage of the Olympics. Although a few players from the Avalanche organization – namely Peter Budaj, Ruslan Salei, Paul Stastny and prospect Jonas Holos – were playing in Vancouver, the 2009-10 NHL season may have been one of the furthest things from your mind.

That begs the question: Where exactly were we before the Olympic break put Colorado’s season on hiatus?

For starters, the Avalanche won four consecutive home games just prior to the break, but was shut out in Los Angeles during its final February contest. With 21 games remaining, Colorado is tied with Vancouver atop the Northwest Division with 76 points. But due to tiebreakers (the Canucks have 37 wins compared to the Avs’ 35), Vancouver holds the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and Colorado sits at No. 6.

As for the roster, a handful of players were banged up before the break, including:

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Milan Hejduk: The high-scoring winger missed Colorado’s final 14 games before the break after undergoing an arthroscopic knee procedure. Placed on injured reserve Jan. 17, Hejduk was originally given a 2-4 week timeline for a recovery. Hejduk was at practice on Wednesday and head coach Joe Sacco said it’s possible the forward could return on March 1 against the Detroit Red Wings.

“He’s making progress. Today was his first practice with us, so I don’t want to jump ahead too quickly,” said Sacco. “If he can progress the way he has each day I think he’ll have a good chance.”

Matt Hendricks: Hendricks is another player who could return very shortly. The forward sat out 12 straight games prior to the break with an ankle injury, but practiced with the team on Wednesday. In 37 contests this season, the Blaine, Minn., native has posted five goals and three assists.

David Jones: The winger remains on the shelf following ACL surgery. Jones suffered the knee injury on Nov. 28 vs. Minnesota and is expected to miss 4-6 months.

David Koci: The Avalanche enforcer broke his hand on Feb. 8 during a scuffle with St. Louis forward D.J. King and is out indefinitely.

Ryan Stoa: The rookie’s shoulder injury – which he suffered on Jan. 29 at Dallas – still has him listed as out indefinitely.

Also, two Avalanche defensemen were injured during Colorado’s Feb. 12 win over Phoenix and subsequently missed the club’s Feb. 13 contest in Los Angeles.

Adam Foote: The Avalanche captain left in the first period of the team’s victory over the Coyotes due to a back injury, but skated this afternoon. Foote has missed 13 games this season due to injuries to his jaw, ankle and back.

Kyle Cumiskey: The defenseman missed Colorado’s final game before the break with a head injury and was not on the ice Wednesday.

The Captain Talks About The Layoff
After practice, Foote talked about spending 10 days away from the rink – an occurrence that obviously doesn’t happen too often during the season.

“We had a good 10 days and that’s enough…It took a good 30 minutes to warm up today, especially for me,” quipped Foote. “The coaches were pretty good to us today. I’m sure tomorrow will be a little harder, but they let us get our legs back today.”

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