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Nathan MacKinnon to miss season opener due to COVID

The Colorado Avalanche star tested positive for COVID-19 but is asymptomatic, will not play Wednesday night.

DENVER — Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon tested positive for COVID-19 and is unavailable for Wednesday night's season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Executive Vice President and team General Manager Joe Sakic announced in a news conference Tuesday that MacKinnon first tested positive on Monday and did not practice with the team on Tuesday. He would be available for the team's second game at home Saturday if a subsequent test comes back negative.

"He's asymptomatic and feeling good," Sakic said. "He won't be playing tomorrow night but hopefully he'll be able to test out and get ready for hopefully Saturday."

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Sakic added that head coach Jared Bednar is still in COVID protocol after testing positive on Thursday of last week, and will have to miss the home opener, as well. Bednar will also be available in the Saturday evening game if he tests out.

The GM confirmed that the entire team and coaching staff is 100 percent vaccinated, so these two cases are breakthrough cases. Defenseman Cale Makar said it's a wakeup call to anyone who thought the virus would go away quietly.

Credit: AP
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

"I think we’ve all done our due diligence in getting vaccinated and making sure we’re as protected as we can be, but at the same time you have to take the extra precautions to make sure you're not putting yourself in those [situations.] This is a fluke and a little bit of a wake-up call," Makar said. "But at the same time, we have guys that need to fill those roles. Nate is a tough guy to fill, but we’re ready and prepared to do it."

Filling that role in the meantime is Nazem Kadri, who wore the blue top-line practice sweater on Tuesday. Kadri looks to make his debut for the first real contest since he was suspended in game two of the first round of the 2021 postseason, after delivering an illegal check to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk.

Avalanche and Blackhawks face off Wednesday night at 8pm at Ball Arena.

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