Mikko Rantanen and the Colorado Avalanche worked out a deal with only a few days to spare ahead of the 2019-20 season. And while hearing that Joe Sakic and Co. were able to lock up their top-line right-winger to a six-year contract surely had fans overjoyed, there likely wasn’t anyone more fired up about the news than Gabriel Landeskog.
As a result, Colorado’s captain and Rantanen’s linemate wanted to ensure he was the first to see the Finn when he returned to the team’s practice facility on Monday.
“Woo-hoo!” yelled Landeskog in the rink’s parking lot with a sign that read ‘Welcome Home Mikko’ over his head upon seeing Rantanen emerge from his vehicle.
“Let’s go! Go Avs! Go Avs!” replied Rantanen with his hockey bag over his shoulder and stick in the air.
Following the made-for-TV moment and a bit of chatter, Rantanen walked into the dressing room to see his co-workers once again.
“You’re big,” he said to Nikita Zadorov with a laugh before grabbing the defenceman’s arm. “You got bigger.”
Based on his interactions with his teammates, there’s little doubt they’re excited to see Rantanen back. Although he ended up missing all of the team’s preseason activities during contract negotiations, he was training and skating in Switzerland with SC Bern to stay sharp. So, unsurprisingly, the 22-year-old didn’t appear to miss a beat during his first practice back with the squad.
"We are really excited to get it over with," said Landeskog of Rantanen’s situation on Sunday, according to Ron Knabenbauer of ColoradoAvalanche.com. "Obviously we wish it could have been done a little bit sooner, but we are excited that we are going to have him for the first game hopefully."
"It took a while, but we are excited that it finally got done," added Nathan MacKinnon on Sunday, per Knabenbauer.
The shared enthusiasm of the two is understandable, as is the dread that goaltenders throughout the league are likely feeling right about now. With the return of Rantanen, one of the deadliest offensive trios in hockey is back together. Rantanen, MacKinnon and Landeskog combined for 106 goals and 261 points last season.
The fact that they genuinely seem to enjoy spending time together happens to just be a bonus.
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