Avalanche’s Andrew Cogliano surpasses 1,200 games and discusses future

TORONTO — Sometimes Zamboni is Andrew Cogliano’s only company.

He is regularly the first or second Avalanche player to step on the ice for Colorado’s morning skates. On game days across North America this season, Cogliano occasionally began skating laps as the rink was still being redone after the home team’s morning practice, which always comes first. .

“I like to go out – and at 35, sometimes it takes a little longer to warm up. So I use that extra time,” the self-deprecating Avalanche wing said. “I think when you play 1,200 matches, you get little things that work, or things that don’t. For me, I think I use the pre-game skate, I use the warm-up, I use them to really prepare. So it’s probably a nuisance at this point.

A nuisance for whom?

“I don’t know. Yeah, nobody, I guess,” Cogliano laughed. “Me. Me, because I have to beat everyone (on the ice). »

For the rest of the Avs, Cogliano is the opposite of a nuisance. The 2022 trade acquisition has been in Denver for a year now, but it feels longer due to his immediate impact as a locker room statesman and reliable controlling presence amid a plagued season. to injuries.

Even after turning 35 and winning his first Stanley Cup, his attention quickly turned to motivating his teammates. Cale Makar received a text message from Cogliano two weeks after the championship: a photo of Cogliano’s exercise bike training.

Colorado Avalanche center Andrew Cogliano (11) hoists the Stanley Cup after defeating the Tampa Bay Lighting at Amalie Arena on June 26, 2022. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

“He’s like, ‘Check it out. Make sure you’re doing the work for next year,'” Makar said. “I love it. I love this stuff. So it only motivated me more.

Cogliano hit another milestone on March 8, playing his 1,200th game of a 16-year NHL career that once featured an 830-game streak with Iron Man. These benchmarks haven’t tired him yet — “I’m proud of myself; I’m proud of my career, of what I’ve been able to achieve,” he said – and he shows no signs of waning. Cogliano has only missed one game this season.

He is, however, nearing the end of a one-year contract worth $1.25 million. That means the unknown looms again for Cogliano this offseason. It’s something he’s used to now. After his contract with Dallas expired in 2021, he signed a one-year, $1 million deal with San Jose, making him a pending unrestricted free agent again when the Sharks traded him to the Colorado. After the Cup, he and the Avalanche reached the current one-year deal.

“I think I’m an hour-by-hour guy in terms of preparing and playing and trying to give my best,” Cogliano told the Post when asked about his future. after this season. “I have two daughters and another daughter on the way, so three daughters at any given time here. So obviously a decision in terms of everything will have to come at some point. But I think right now I have my hands full of being the best player I can be right now. And whatever happens, happens. Sometimes the decisions about the game are not yours. And sometimes it’s yours. So we’ll see how it goes for me.

It’s a question of whether the teams continue to want Cogliano. One team in particular. Colorado is currently constrained to use LTIR cap space, and the league’s salary cap of $82.5 million is expected to increase by just $1 million next year. Difficult choices regarding UFAs loom on the horizon. Cogliano told the Post on March 14 that he doesn’t yet know if the Avs want to re-sign him, but he hopes to continue playing in Colorado.

“It’s a special team to play for. It’s an honor to play for this team,” he said. “I take great pride in it. And I was very lucky to come here last year and win a Cup. And that’s the type of team you want to play on.

Colorado Avalanche's Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates his 1-0 goal against the Chicago Blackhawks with teammates Devon Toews (7), Andrew Cogliano (11) and Logan O'Connor (25) during the first period at the Ball Arena in Denver on Wednesday, October 12, 2022. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates his 1-0 goal against the Chicago Blackhawks with teammates Devon Toews (7), Andrew Cogliano (11) and Logan O’Connor (25) during the first period at the Ball Arena in Denver on Wednesday, October 12, 2022. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

“I think for me it’s about playing as well as I can this year, and you hope so. And you hope teams — especially this team — are looking for that. And you go from there.

Cogliano’s wife is due to give birth to their third daughter in April, he said — near the start of the playoffs. Last season, Cogliano’s value as a defensive forward paid off at this time of year. Intangibles such as playoff experience were also crucial.

“I think he’s a great person,” Nathan MacKinnon said. “Great veteran. Great friend of mine. So I rely on him for advice. Where is the team, what to do, what is the mood.

“We were texting a lot this summer,” Mikko Rantanen said. “He’s a funny guy, you know. He’s intense when he plays, and he’s intense about everything, basically.

On a possible retirement, Cogliano said at this point: “I feel good and I feel like my game is pretty good.” He thinks about the big picture, but the moments between each 100-game milestone can sometimes feel blurry. As he has repeatedly pointed out, he is “hour by hour”, thinking more about his next morning start to the morning skate than about walking away.

“I think in hockey you always want to be wanted,” he said. “You always want to play the best you can. And I’ve always been a guy who’s been able to sign overtime and play in teams for quite a while, other than the last two years. … Sometimes you’re wanted Sometimes you’re not. And I obviously think you start thinking about other things afterwards.

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