Colorado Avalanche general manager Chris MacFarland recently told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun that the team is hoping captain Gabriel Landeskog can be healthy in time for the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs. MacFarland said to LeBrun, “We’re hoping… There’s still so much that needs to be gleaned in this so it’s hard to put a timeline on it.” Landeskog is recovering from receiving a cartilage transplant in his right knee that he received in May.
Landeskog underwent his first knee procedure in March 2022, returning for the team’s Stanley Cup run where he recorded a dazzling 22 points in 20 playoff games. But the weight of a Cup run may have taken a toll on Landeskog’s weak knee, which required an additional surgery in October 2022. This second operation was intended to be a less invasive way to get Landeskog back on the ice. But after he missed the entire 2022-23 regular season, he decided to opt for the transplant.
And while certainly daunting, the cartilage replacement process isn’t unheard of in top athletes. Landeskog worked with Dr. Brian Cole and Dr. Rachel Frank, two sports physicians who were involved when former Senators defender Marc Methot received the same surgery in 2019. And while the surgery has an 85 percent success rate, nothing is guaranteed. Methot told exactly that to the Associated Press, saying, “I’m sure [Landeskog] has had the same conversation with Dr. Cole where he won’t be promised anything… There’s no certainty that you’re going to feel the way you did when you left.”
Chicago Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball underwent the same surgery in March of this year and will be held out of the 2022-23 NBA season as a result. Ball had a similar path to the surgery as Landeskog, undergoing an unsuspecting knee surgery that spiraled into three operations, finished with the cartilage transplant. Landeskog used conversations with Ball, and plenty of research, to guide his decision to receive the operation.
Chris MacFarland remains optimistic about Landeskog’s prospects, if by necessity if nothing else. He told The Athletic, “… I wouldn’t bet against Gabriel Landeskog in anything. If there’s somebody that’s going to deal with what he’s dealing with, with the right attitude and determination, it’s him. He’s our Viking.” Landeskog was a point-per-game forward right up until his injury took him out of commission. Adding his scoresheet impact, and his leadership qualities, could provide an exciting jolt to the Avalanche lineup come the Spring. But that’s if the captain can overcome a difficult journey with this knee injury.