Avalanche Landeskog Knee Surgery Hockey

Gabriel Landeskog talks during an April 13 news conference.

Every week during the offseason, Denver Gazette beat writer Kyle Fredrickson will take you around the NHL and inside the Avalanche:


"Connor Bedard holds the title as the best draft-eligible prospect that I have scouted, as were other unique elite talents before him such as Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. It seems that each one of these 'generational' talents help set the platform for the next talent to surpass them and achieve success.”

Dan Marr, vice president of the NHL Central Scouting, in a recent interview with NHL.com



—Chicago won the NHL draft lottery and that means presumptive No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard will likely haunt Central Division foes for the next decade. Yikes. The Bedard hype train has been at full steam for what feels like years now. His highlight tapes are utterly ridiculous. Even Avalanche players are impressed.

—"His release is one of the best in the world now … at 17 (years old),” forward Nathan MacKinnon told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan in a recent feature story. How will Bedard handle that pressure when making his NHL debut? Sure, all signs point to him being the next McDavid or Crosby. But it’s a little unfair to crown Bedard king before his actual coronation. Let him prove it on the ice.

—The Blackhawks showed that tanking works. Chicago didn’t pretend to try and win last season with a roster unfit, intentionally, to compete in the Central. Their abysmal 26-49-7 record was rewarded with an 11.5% chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick. Now, a generational talent is expected to lead a storied franchise back to prominence.

—The NHL draft is on the horizon (June 28-29) with Colorado light on picks. The Avs traded away selections this year in the second, third and fourth rounds; from previous trades that netted goaltender Alexandar Georgiev and defensemen Josh Manson and Kurtis MacDermid. Colorado picks late in the first round with non-lottery draft order dependent on playoff outcomes.



—The ownership bidding war for the Ottawa Senators will not include the group with actor Ryan Reynolds. He pulled out of the running after being denied an “exclusive 30-day window to secure a downtown arena deal,” according to ESPN. Another well-known celebrity, music mogul Snoop Dogg, has reportedly joined a different bid to own the team.

— Is the NHL draft lottery rigged? Recent behind-the-scenes reporting from The Athletic proves those conspiracy theories are false and explains how the draft is vetted to prevent controversy. The story brings vivid detail to an admittedly strange process.



— One of the more unexpected sports selfies you’ll ever witness: Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari and Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar. They sat next to each other Tuesday near the court at Ball Arena for Game 5 of the Nuggets-Sun playoff series. Calipari posted a selfie on Twitter with a message:

To all the UMass fans: Got to hang out with Cale Makar at the Nuggets game last night!

—Devon Toews, also sitting beside Makar at Game 5, is the Avalanche’s player nomination for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. It’s given annually to “the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community."

—Denis Malgin scored a power-play goal for Switzerland’s national team on Saturday in the IIHF World Championship held in Finland. Mikko Rantanen is competing for this native host country. Brad Hunt is competing for Canada.

—My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of longtime Avalanche beat writer Rick Sadowski, 71, who passed away in late April. We shared a handful of conversations over the past few years when Rick wrote for NHL.com. He was a kind man with unrivaled hockey knowledge. I’ll think about Rick a lot when next season begins. The Avs room was a better place with him in it. Rest in peace.

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DENVER — A college athlete who underwent cartilage transplant surgery is now an orthoepic surgeon who specializes in the procedure.

Meet Dr. Rachel Frank.

The former University of Illinois soccer player and current Colorado Rapids’ team physician is among a handful of experts who truly understand the challenge facing Colorado Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog.

“Sometimes, they can’t describe what it is that they’re feeling in their knee, but they just know something is wrong,” Frank told The Denver Gazette in a recent phone interview. “I’ve been there. I know what that feels like. There’s no way you can learn that in a textbook.”

Frank is not on Landeskog’s medical care team and is unable to comment specifically on his injury or treatment plan. But Frank’s personal experience — “I’ve had a total of seven knee surgeries,” she said — and unique path through sports medicine makes her perspective especially valuable.

Frank completed her orthopedic surgery residency at the renowned Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Brian Cole, who performed Landeskog’s cartilage transplant surgery. Cole served as her fellowship mentor.

“I can say with not only Dr. Cole, but with the Avalanche team docs, that athletes in general are in great hands,” said Frank, who moved to Colorado in 2017 to start her medical practice, doing about 500 sports medicine surgeries each year.

Now, Landeskog is on his first steps toward a long recovery. He posted a photo Thursday to his Instagram story with the caption: Everything went well yesterday. Appreciate all the support!

Frank, without knowing specifics, confirmed that roughly 85 percent of cartilage transplants are successful. With one significant caveat for Landeskog.

“For the vast majority of patients, the goal is to get back to things like going up and down the stairs, walking their dog around the block and enjoying some light recreation,” Frank said. “But for high-level athletes, particularly at the professional level, a successful outcome has a much different meaning.”

Landeskog, confirmed to miss the 2023-24 season, would not commit to a timetable for his possible return to play. That’s because his body will ultimately determine when it is ready to endure the toll of being a star NHL power forward.

“To get back to high-level athletics, we typically say it takes about a year, and sometimes longer. Up to 18 months in some cases,” Frank said. “I do tell patients that it takes time. Even a couple of years before your knee feels the best that it’s going to feel. But in terms of getting back to a sport such as hockey, I think a year or longer would be fairly predictable.”

Frank said that the “first two or three months are difficult” in recovering from cartilage transplant surgery.

“There are certainly good days and bad days. I like to tell patients it’s like hiking a 14er,” Frank continued. “You know you’re going to get to the top but there are some switchbacks along the way that can be tough. As long as you remain goal focused, you’ve got a great supportive team, and good physical therapists … there is no limit to the opportunities that are possible at the end.”

Landeskog’s unwavering confidence that he will make a full recovery to play at an elite level is by design. The Avalanche captain must be ready for a difficult journey. Frank can relate.

“The physical, mental and emotional aspects of going through a surgery like this are equally important,” Frank said. “That optimism is exactly what we want our patients to have and his background as an athlete is only going to help.”



Top-3 power rankings of teams still alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs, according to The Denver Gazette.

1. Panthers: Florida ousted two East frontrunners with realistic expectations of reaching the Cup finals, topping the Bruins in seven games and the Maple Leafs in five games.

2. Golden Knights: Vegas is one win away from advancing to the Western Conference finals over an Oilers team with the best player in the world (Connor McDavid, of course).

2. Hurricanes: Carolina is the betting favorite — as of early Saturday — to win the Stanley Cup, per the sportsbooks at PointsBet (+185), BetMGM (+200) and DraftKings (+210).

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