DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche demoted T.J. Galiardi to the minors to send a message.
Before the young forward could even settle in, though, the team had an even more urgent message: Hurry back.
Galiardi played one game with the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League before he was summoned to return to the parent club. The Avs needed his services after forward Tomas Fleischmann was diagnosed Thursday with two blood clots, one in each lung. Fleischmann won’t play again this season.
With Fleischmann went one of the team’s top scorers.
This has simply been that kind of season for the banged-up Avalanche, who’ve lost one top player after another to injuries and illnesses but still remain in the playoff chase nearing the all-star break.
From Chris Stewart breaking his hand in an on-ice fight to Peter Mueller missing every game so far with a concussion, Colorado can’t catch a break on the injury front.
Not that they expect anyone to feel sorry for them.
“A lot of teams go through injuries,” captain Adam Foote nonchalantly said after practice Friday. “We’ve had some nasty injuries for sure, but guys just jump in and that’s just part of the deal.”
If things pan out, one of those guys jumping in may even be a familiar face.
Former Avs star and league MVP Peter Forsberg will practise with the squad Saturday morning before the team’s game against Boston to see if he is in shape for a potential return to the team. He has played sporadically in recent years because of a troublesome right foot.
Forsberg won two Stanley Cup titles with Colorado and remains an immense fan favourite.
“We want to help him find out where he’s at,” said Jean Martineau, a senior vice-president for the team.
Before Fleischmann’s illness, Colorado was hoping to send Galiardi to the minors for an extended time to bolster his confidence. The 22-year-old has been struggling since his return from a broken right wrist earlier this season.
He’s scored no goals in his last eight games and was scratched from another contest, an attempt to shake him out of his doldrums.
Those plans were ditched when he was needed to fill in for the 26-year-old Fleischmann, who will be on blood thinners for the next several months.
“We don’t control circumstances,” Avs coach Joe Sacco said. “With Fleischmann being hurt, Galiardi gets a chance quickly.
“It was a very short stay for him.”
Even the brief stint with the Monsters could turn out to be highly beneficial.
It was for Stewart, who was sent down to the minors last season for two games and came back a different player, leading the team with 28 goals.
“I went down with the mentality that I wasn’t going to pout, that I was going to work hard,” Stewart said. “When I got my chance, I was going to do whatever it took to stay in the NHL.”
Paul Stastny said Galiardi packed his bags and headed off with the same mentality. The two are roommates and Stastny’s parting message was simple: Do the work and see you soon.
“No one’s ever excited to get sent down,” Stastny said. “Everyone’s frustrated.
“But you cope with it. You can’t have any distractions, can’t think about what’s going on. You worry about what you can do.”
The Avalanche had quite an arduous day Thursday, finding out the news about Fleischmann early in the afternoon and then losing to Nashville 5-1 that night.
Now, the Avs know the player they call “Flash” is going to be fine. General manager Greg Sherman said Fleischmann should be able to resume his career following treatment.
Fleischmann’s condition was discovered Thursday after he experienced shortness of breath following the morning skate. The illness may have even been going on longer.
Fleischmann set up the winning overtime goal against Vancouver last Tuesday but couldn’t join in the celebration.
“He made a great play and was outside the pile trying to get his breath,” Foote said. “Obviously, something was wrong. We didn’t know if it was a bad cold or fever.
“Thank God they did the X-ray and caught it in time.”
With Fleischmann sidelined, Galiardi gets another chance as he rejoins the team and will play Saturday afternoon against the Bruins. The demotion may be a wake-up call for Galiardi, like it once was for Foote early in his career.
“I knew when I was down there that when I got called up, I never wanted to go back,” the 39-year-old Foote said. “It happens to guys. Some guys have to go through that learning curve. Hopefully, he’ll bounce back from the (wrist) injury, get some confidence and get rolling.”