Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland and captain Gabe Landeskog met with the media on Thursday to discuss the 2023-24 season, Landeskog’s recovery, and more.

Landeskog’s Recovery

Although he hasn’t played since the Avalanche lifted the Stanley Cup in Tampa on June 26, 2022, Landeskog isn’t ready to hang up his skates yet and said there's a lot that drives him to want to play again.

“The logo that I’m wearing,” Landeskog said. “To represent that the best way I can. The fanbase has always been very supportive of me and my journey no matter the ups and the downs that we’ve gone through. The 25 guys in that locker room, guys that are pushing me and watching the guys grind through and 82-game season plus playoffs.”

He added that ultimately, his family is what motivates him to continue to rehab his injury.

“I’ve got two young kids that are three and four now,” Landeskog said. They were two and a half and one and a half when we won the Cup and that was the last time they saw me play. My son is now three and last night he slept with his hockey jersey on, he slept with his stick, he slept with his gloves and he loves hockey. Whether that’s to my fault or not because he’s exposed to a lot of it, and he comes to practice sometimes and he comes to the games."

Landeskog said he’s explained to his children that he’s still going to work even though he’s not playing while giving credit to his wife for being his rock.

“I just can’t wait to be back out there and come give my family big hugs after the game,” Landeskog said. “It’ll be pretty special.”

When could we see Landeskog back on the ice?

“Between mid-September and the start of April,” Landeskog said. “I feel pretty good about it.”

MacFarland had high praise for Landeskog and said they can’t acquire someone else who can replace the player or person that Landeskog is.

“His injury has been challenging in a lot of ways, but not more challenging than what he’s going through,” MacFarland said. “He loves the game. He’s a massive cog in what we’re trying to do and he’s earned the right to have as much time as it takes to get back on the ice.”

MacFarland on the 2023-24 Season

“[I] certainly felt we had a team capable of winning,” MacFarland said. “And as you guys all know, there’s quite a few teams that go into the playoffs feeling they have a chance to win. We had three-straight 50-win seasons, tremendous talent on our team, and tremendous character.”

He also noted the quality of opponents the Avalanche faced in the playoffs.

“Two tough opponents,” MacFarland said. “Both 100-plus point teams. I think Winniepg was a challenging first-round opponent and then Dallas had the second-most points in the league and we’re a goal away from getting it to a game seven. Ultimately, the guys were crushed because you realistically feel you have a chance. But it’s hard and you need a lot of things to go right.

“But [I’m] very proud of the group. They battled all year. They give it their all. They believed every single day that we were going to find a way even when we fell behind. So, [I] continue to be proud and know we’re going to be back.”

MacFarland added that forward Artturi Lehkonen will receive a shoulder procedure and said “it’s gonna be close” whether he’ll be ready for training camp.

Nathan MacKinnon’s Historic Season

MacFarland and Landeskog both believe that MacKinnon should win the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s MVP.

“Nate’s a unicorn,” MacFarland said. “I’ve always said to Nate, if Nate wants to win the Selke, he can do it. There’s not a thing on the ice he can’t do. And obviously the points and all that, he’s a number one franchise center. There’s not many of those guys. He had an incredible season and it’s an honor to get to watch him and our team do what they do but Nate had an awesome year.”

“No doubt,” Landeskog said. “In my opinion it’s his third MVP, but I’m keeping my tally at home. But no matter if he wins it or not, whether he wins the Hart, the [Ted] Lindsay (the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by members of the NHLPA), both, or none of them, it doesn’t change our perception of who he is or what he’s done.

“And I’m sure the Avs fans and you guys feel similar, right? You guys get to see and we are all blessed to get to see him playing on a nightly basis and I don’t think anybody should be taking it for granted. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, he pulls something else out of the bag and shows us something else. It’s been fun to watch.”