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Nathan MacKinnon OUT for Opening Night

The Colorado Avalanche star won’t be available after COVID Protocols

Vegas Golden Knights v Colorado Avalanche - Game Five Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche’s star forward Nathan MacKinnon will be unavailable for Wednesday night’s opening night game against the Chicago Blackhawks. He was left out of practice Tuesday due to COVID protocols.

Joe Sakic in a press conference Tuesday announced that the star center had tested positive for COVID-19. He will miss the opening game of the season due to the positive test.

There is hope that MacKinnon could return on Saturday versus the St. Louis Blues, pending that he tests out of COVID. Currently, according to Sakic, MacKinnon is asymptomatic and is resting at home.

This is the second breakthrough COVID-19 case the Avalanche have dealt with, even before the beginning the regular season. Head Coach Jared Bednar is still out with his own positive COVID test he had during the preseason.

It is expected that Assistant Coach Ray Bennett will continue to be at the helm for opening night in place of Bednar. Bennett was the head coach for the last few preseason games this year while Bednar was out.

However, with Jared Bednar approaching two weeks out due to COVID, Sakic anticipates that Bednar will be back behind the bench on Saturday vs. the St. Louis Blues.

The uphill climb already begins for the Avalanche, even before the season begins. He will be third regular to miss opening night, with Pavel Francouz and Devon Toews out due to injuries. Sakic confirmed that Francouz’s injury he suffered in the preseason was a sprained ankle.

With the abscence of MacKinnon at practice today, Nazem Kadri moved up to the first line centering Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. Coming in to fill MacKinnon’s spot on the roster was defensemen Kurtis MacDermid who can also play forward. He was on the fourth line on the right-wing.

Unless the Avalanche decide to call someone up from the Colorado Eagles later today or early tomorrow, this should be the expected line-up for tomorrow night’s game against the Blackhawks.

The Avalanche are 100% vaccinated, and Sakic continued to stress that fact during the press conference Tuesday. Despite the full vaccination status, COVID will still be a factor in the health and safety of everyone in the arena with these breakthrough cases.

We hope MacKinnon rests up and is ready to go Saturday, or anytime after that. Same goes for Bednar. Stay safe Avs fans.