CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ian Cole was present in a full-contact jersey at the team's practice on Monday, his first time sporting a regular training sweater with the group this season.
It was initially anticipated that Cole wouldn't return to game action until December after he had offseason surgery on both of his hips, but head coach Jared Bednar said Monday it is a possibility that Cole could play again sometime in the next few weeks.
"All I know is he has been working extremely hard. He had a focus from Day 1 of his injury that he was going to be back early, and he has put in the work," said Bednar. "I mean that's a guy that wants to get back in the lineup and wants to play. It is all his doing. He has been doing everything and more that the trainers have allowed him to do and the doctors have allowed him to do in the timeline.
"Sometimes that helps you get back quicker, and I believe that is the case here. He has gone back up to see the doc, he has been cleared for physical play and we will just see how the next few days go. We will keep an eye on him and keep evaluating him as the next week or so goes."
While Cole was on the ice, a few forwards were absent from the Avalanche's practice. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Andre Burakovsky, J.T. Compher, Joonas Donskoi and Nazem Kadri were not on the ice for the session, but Bednar expects them to be available when Colorado hosts the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
"We got five guys out right now that didn't skate this morning, and they all should be ready to play for the next game against Boston," Bednar said after the session. "[Kadri] took a shot to the foot the other night, so he is a little sore, sore to put it in the skate. We had five forwards miss today's practice. We are a little bit dinged up, nothing that I anticipate is going to be long term though."
The Avs last played on Saturday when they earned a 4-2 win against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center. Both Kadri and Donskoi left the ice in the closing minutes of the second period, but they returned to play the entire third stanza.
Colorado wraps up its season-opening, four-game homestand by hosting the Bruins on Thursday and Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
After the session, rookie defenseman Conor Timmins was reassigned to the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League.
He made his NHL debut in Colorado's season opener on Thursday against the Calgary Flames and he finished with a plus-2 rating in 10:50 of ice time in the Avalanche's 4-2 win against the Wild on Thursday.
The games marked the first that he has played competitively since he suffered a head injury in the 2018 Ontario Hockey League Playoffs. He spent a year and a half recovering and battled through adversity to earn a spot on the Avs' opening night roster with a strong showing during training camp and the preseason.
"No. 1 we know the amount of time he has missed. He has been here, he starts on our roster because of what he did in training camp," said head coach Jared Bednar. "The game is getting faster and faster, and we feel that to get him the right amount of minutes and in the right situations is really important.
"It is also understanding where he is leaving camp that everything is positive on our outlook on his game. Getting in-game situations and being able to read the play quicker and quicker, I think the more reps he gets, the more the game is going to slow down for him and the more we are going to see his skill and intelligence shine through."
Bednar also noted that the team will probably recall a defenseman from the Eagles later in the week.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Matt Nieto - Tyson Jost - Colin Wilson
Valeri Nichushkin - Vladislav Kamenev - Matt Calvert
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Cale Makar
Ryan Graves - Mark Barberio
Ian Cole - Conor Timmins
Did Not Practice: Forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Andre Burakovsky, J.T. Compher, Joonas Donskoi, Nazem Kadri