The evening before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, Andrew Cogliano approached Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon with an idea. The veteran had been reflecting after a one-goal loss in Game 5. He thought it would be good to have a collective reset heading into a game in which the team could clinch the Stanley Cup.
So Colorado’s players met in the team room of their hotel. Landeskog and MacKinnon each shared a few words, and then Cogliano spoke.
“Sometimes when you have a guy who is not an assistant captain or captain and you have another voice, a new guy, sometimes it resonates and gives guys a different perspective,” he said Wednesday in an interview with The Athletic.
Words especially resonate when coming from Cogliano. The 35-year-old forward has played 1,140 games in the NHL and quickly earned his teammates’ trust when San Jose moved him to the Avalanche at the trade deadline. Rookie Alex Newhook, who is 21, called Cogliano a mentor, and multiple players mentioned wanting to win the Stanley Cup so he could hoist it for the first time in his career.
Cogliano wanted to share how he felt after Game 5. He believed that even though the Avalanche had a 3-1 series lead going into that game, it was a tough situation. “You think you’re winning the Cup heading to the rink,” he said. And that’s not an easy mindset to have. He found himself trying to anticipate what could happen rather than staying in the moment.
“You’re working your whole life, basically, to get to that pinnacle of hockey, and I didn’t think we had that next-shift mentality,” he said. “I knew other players were feeling that. I knew younger guys on the team, a lot of guys on the team, were probably feeling the same thing as me. I thought if I would get that off my chest and get it into the open, other guys would feel the same way and open up about it and acknowledge it. At least then we could move on as a team and figure out a way to break out of that mindset. At the end of the day, we did. We did perfectly.”
Teammate Cale Makar, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP, said the meeting had a calming effect on the Avalanche.