Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog recently went on one of Sweden’s more popular hockey podcasts, NHL-Timmen, with host Linus Hugosson. The conversation covered a wide range of topics and one of our readers, Robin Fredriksson, was kind enough to translate it into English.
Linus Hugosson: Welcome to NHL-timmen. Are you a podcast fan?
Gabe Landeskog: I am, I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts, but during the season I try to avoid listening to hockey stuff.
LH: So how do you spend your days now when the season is suspended? Any plans?
GL: Well, when it comes to plans I don’t have a lot right now. My wife Melissa is from Toronto so we are here right now. Managed to fly here yesterday (Ed. note: Podcast was released on March 20), we take one day at a day, try to relax, and we also have a 4,5-month-old baby that takes up a lot of time, so that’s really nice. It feels great to have the chance to be a full-time dad, and I guess that’s the positive you can take out of all this.
It all ended so fast, it’s seven days ago we played a really emotional game against the Rangers. We won in OT. And we were told just before the game that the NBA had suspended their season. But it really wasn’t anything we thought about when playing. A few guys were joking “This might be the last game, so let’s make it count” but it felt more like it was looking increasingly likely that our season was being suspended too. So just from one moment to another, we had an important game, we were chasing St. Louis for the division title and then just… stay home, no hockey. It was a really strange experience. Not exactly something you think is gonna happen.
LH: Besides the public health aspect, which makes it a no-brainer to pause the season, how did you react when it happened, and now with some perspective on it, Avs having a really good season, how would it feel if you weren’t given the chance to compete for the Stanley Cup?
GL: It feels really empty right now. I guess it sounds weird to say this but it’s just our perspective. It’s such a big global issue. It’s such a tragic occurrence, and so many people are affected by it. But we, the athletes are “entertainers” in what we do. Regardless of what state the world is in, and what crisis is occurring, sports has always been a great “distraction” for people. To get away from real life two hours and just cheer for your team, and now people don’t even have that. That feels really weird.
And like you said, we had a really good season. We always talk about the NHL season being a marathon, the classic, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. But it really started to feel like it was heating up, we were chasing St Louis, and we were preparing for the playoffs. Sure we had a lot of injuries, but those guys were soon ready to come back. And then all of a sudden… Done. And who knows if we are even gonna be able to finish the season.
And if I am totally honest, this year felt like, almost the first time since I got here, that we had a really good team and had a legit chance at this thing. And obviously, 31 teams say the same in august/september, but I am being totally honest, it felt like we had a really good chance this year. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens but, it’s a strange situation.
But now with some perspective on it, this thing is bigger than just sports. What we are going through is nothing in comparison to the people who have lost their jobs, and can’t pay their bills and all kinds of situations. But from our point of view, it feels empty. Because we can’t do what we love, and we also can’t give people the distraction of being able to watch hockey and cheer for their team for a couple of hours.
LH: Why do you think Colorado Avalanche have had such a season?
GL: We made some acquisitions this summer. And regardless if it was a free agent fourth line center pick up like Bellemare or trading for Kadri. Or Donskoi or Burakovsky. Every player has really made a difference. And a lot of people are talking about just that. The depth we have has won us a lot of games. The few nights when MacKinnon isn’t at his absolute best, others have stepped up. And that’s something we have not had before. So that’s one thing. Our depth at forward. Which means you can spread out ice time some more, you simply have more weapons.
And also…we have a player like Cale Makar for example, who is a joy to watch. Sam Girard has taken another step in his development. Ryan Graves has come in and done a nice job. We have many players who have grown into larger roles even though they are at an early stage in their career. We have had a good and fun season, but sure…every year has ups and downs. But we have found to raise the standard of our “bad nights”.
And even when we haven’t played great, we have won games and that leads to having good point totals. And it has been really fun to be part of the fight to win the conference or the division. Instead of just trying to survive and make it into the playoffs like previous years.
LH: NHL seems to look at all kind of different scenarios to finish the seasons, and I assume you have an ear in the discussion via NHLPA. Can you tell us what is going on right now?
GL: A lot of things are up in the air and we don’t really know what’s gonna happen, but we are being informed by NHLPA how the discussions are going and where we are at right now. But it’s not just up to the NHL and NHLPA, this involves governments, countries, states, and presidents and whatever that needs to make decisions. So it’s not up to us, but we are hoping the situation can be controlled and…first of all, that people can go to their jobs and get their life back.
I guess we will see what happens with hockey. I have heard all kinds of different scenarios. Playing with empty arenas or canceling the season entirely. I have no idea what’s gonna happen. It’s just speculation. It feels weird to talk about, we were right in the middle of the season a week ago, preparing for the playoffs, and now we are here… But we are being informed continuously from NHLPA where every team has a representative, and I am the alternate representative, so I have the chance to listen in. It’s an ongoing discussion, and a high level, but I am listening and asking questions.
LH: Playing in empty arenas. How would that feel?
GL: I don’t know if it’s a genuine option or not, I shouldn’t say. But it’s something we discussed within our team at a pretty early stage when we were still playing when news broke that the March Madness was gonna be played without fans, and the discussion set off within our team, and it would be a really strange feeling. We were joking about goal celebrations and such. Why do you do goal celebrations? To fire up the fans or? Then would you do it?
Oh I don’t know. But if it happens we will play for the love of the game, and for each other, and for the organization. But it’s the fans who make this possible. And it’s the fans who create the atmosphere at the games. 41 home games every year. You feel a connection with them, and playing in Pepsi Center, without them, would be very strange.
LH: Do we have a deadline date? When the season is canceled?
GL: No idea. Can’t answer that. I haven’t asked that question and I don’t think no one knows the answer.
LH: Would you be willing to play playoffs in August?
GL: I think it depends on who you ask. But if you ask me, I’m 27 years old. It’s my ninth season. If you asked me five, six years ago, I would probably say “just cancel it” if it goes that far. But it’s my ninth season and the clock is ticking. You only get so many shots at winning this thing. And especially when we are having such a good season. It would feel really sad to not have the chance to compete for this. So, of course, I want to play in the playoffs. Regardless in what shape or form. You want to at least be given the chance to win it. I want to raise the Stanley Cup, regardless if it’s June or a month later.
LH: Toilet paper is a huge topic right now. Have you seen any stock pilling of toilet paper in your region?
GL: No I haven’t seen anyone that has bought plenty. If I had seen someone with a huge amount I probably would have walked up and said something to them. It’s such a strange phenomenon. It’s something about the psychological aspect of it. When you see other people buying something, you think you need to also, but… Crazy times.
LH: Do you have any suggestion on how to kill times in quarantine/lockdown?
GL: Watch the best games of the season, or watch the Calgary-series from last year. I love watching the old Stanley Cup documentaries. 2001, Colorado Avalanche. It’s on Youtube I think. That one usually gives me chills.