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MacKinnon returns to Avs as his x-rays prove negative

Jared Bednar said his relief level was "significant" when his star center returned to practice Thursday morning prior to the game against San Jose.

DENVER — A collective sigh of relief fell over Denver Thursday morning when no. 29 returned to the ice in preparation for San Jose. No one was more relieved than Jared Bednar, who said his relief was "significant," when the x-rays returned negative results for Nathan MacKinnon's "upper body injury".

The head coach, however, said he would not be policing how his star center handles his business in the future.

“The game has to be played with passion and it has to be played with physicality. Would I like him to make a different decision in the moment? Yeah, sure. I wish he wouldn’t have fought. If you don’t play with passion and physicality, in my opinion, you’re going to come up with more injuries than you do if you don't play it that way," Bednar said. "Hockey is a physical sport. It’d be a lot like telling a linebacker in football, ‘hey, you know, we’re almost in the playoffs, so make sure you don’t hit anybody hard. You might hurt your shoulder.’ It’s not going to happen.”

MacKinnon's passion is no secret: he wears a letter on his chest for a reason.

"You don't harness that, you try to bring it out in guys. Do I want him fighting every night? No, I don't, but it's part of the game," Bednar said. "I don't tell Nathan MacKinnon how to go out and play with passion or not play with passion."

"That's what makes Nathan, Nathan. That's why he's one of the best players in the world. It's not just that he's a good skater or that he has a good skillset or a good hockey IQ, it's the way he plays the game," Bednar said. "He's a bull in a china shop. When he's good, that's the way he plays."

The Colorado Avalanche (47-14-6) host the San Jose Sharks (29-29-8) at Ball Arena Thursday night at 7:00.

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