Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said right wing Steve Downie has been cleared to participate in training camp and 18-year-old rookie Nathan MacKinnon is still set to center the third line between Downie and left wing Jamie McGinn. Roy who will begin his NHL coaching career Oct. 2 when the Avs host the Anaheim Ducks held his season-opening press conference at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday during the team's first official day together. "Quite frankly I'm a little nervous but at the same time very excited" Roy said. "Great challenge ahead of us." During physical exams and off-ice testing Downie told The Denver Post he is 100 percent healthy but he doesn't feel 100 percent ready to go. He underwent reconstructive knee surgery in late January and missed 46 of 48 games in the lockout-shortened season. "The way I look at it this camp is I haven't played a game in two years" Downie said. "I just have to get the legs going. I'm going to take it relatively slow because I still have almost a month to get ready. I'll be ready for opening night. No question about opening night." Downie who has played just 22 games with the Avs since being acquired late in the 2011-12 season said he's been skating "a while but back on skates and going as hard as you can is different. Would I say I'm ready? No I'm not there. But I'm real close. It's just a matter of getting my repetitions and touches with the puck." Roy spoke for about 35 minutes about everything from lines and defensive pairings to his glory days as a player. He said MacKinnon whom the Avs selected with the No. 1 overall pick at the June 30 draft will play his entire rookie professional season with the Avs and will begin centering the third line.
Nathan MacKinnon to center Avs' 3rd line; Steve Downie cleared to play
Denver Post | Sep 12