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The celebration of the Stanley Cup championship falls silent for the Colorado Avalanche. Time to start defending the title.
Colorado’s first big step in what is sure to be a busy offseason was the re-signing of veteran forward Andrew Cogliano to a one-year contract on Tuesday. Cogliano, 35, played a key role in helping the Avalanche lift their first trophy since 2001.
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More big decisions are ahead.
All over the ice, the Avalanche are filled with unlimited free agents. There are forwards like Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, Valeri Nichushkin along with defenders like Josh Manson and Jack Johnson and goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper. There are also several restricted free agents like Artturi Lehkonen and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
“The guys who drive the bus every night are still here and very hungry,” Cogliano said over a Zoom call.
That would be the core of Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog. Makar is the reigning winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy for postseason MVP.
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“We will be hungry for more. We have a taste now,” said Cogliano, who plans to bring the trophy back to the Toronto area if he gets his chance. “With the guys that we have in our team and they’re very motivated, I think they’re just going to want more of that. I think this is a perfect place to start next season.”
Cogliano was acquired by Colorado at the close of trade from San Jose for a fifth-round pick in the 2024 draft.
More than his three goals and three assists in the postseason, he demonstrated his determination by returning from a hand injury he sustained in the Western Conference Finals against Edmonton. He underwent surgery but was back for Game 2 of the Cup Final against Tampa Bay in a series the Avalanche would win 4-2.
Cogliano also delivered a heartfelt speech at the team hotel in front of the series winner to rally the squad. They lost Game 5 at home and he wanted to help them get their focus back.
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“It was a new experience for a lot of guys to go into the game and think they’re going to win the Stanley Cup and really expect it,” said Cogliano. “I felt like if I did that publicly we could all kind of accept it and make a plan for Game 6 and get our thoughts right and get our emotions right.
“I thought we did it perfectly. Everything we talked about, everything we agreed on that night, I thought we executed that game 6 100%. I think that’s probably why we played the game of our lives in terms of execution.”
Just a veteran’s voice shining through.
“Andrew has been such a big part of our Stanley Cup championship with his leadership and presence as a veteran,” Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said in a statement. “He’s a great teammate who works hard on and off the ice and is a great example for the rest of the group.”
Cogliano is already planning his training for next season.
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But first, a little relaxation in his cabin in British Columbia with his family.
“Obviously a short summer, but I think it’s exciting. It’ll pass quickly and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing,” said Cogliano. “Come back in September and get to work as a team and get back to where we were this year.”