When the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild face off in Edmonton on Wednesday, July 29, Vancouver Giants fans will have a decision to make.
Do fans of the Langley-based team cheer for star Giants defenceman Bowen Byram, who is on the Avalanche roster, or do they root for former Giants head coach Dean Evason, now guiding the Wild?
Byram was on the list Sunday, July 26, when the Avalanche announced its roster for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs that will be held in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto.
Each team participating in the Stanley Cup qualifiers is permitted to bring up to 52 individuals into the secure zones in the hub cities, including a maximum of 31 players.
Colorado Avalanche will be bringing 17 forwards, 11 defenceman, and three goalies with them to meet their 31-player maximum limit.
All of the players on the roster appeared in at least one game for the Avalanche during the 2019-20 regular-season, with the exception of Byram and forward Shane Bowers, from the American Hockey League’s Colorado Eagles.
Byram has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Avalanche, who selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft.
Byram was rated the second-best North American skater in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, having moved up from the fourth spot in the mid-term rankings.
Evason was named full-time head coach of the NHL Minnesota Wild by team general manager Bill Guerin on Monday, July 13.
As part of the announcement, Evason signed a two-year extension with the organization through the 2021-22 season.
Evason served as head coach of the Langley-based WHL Giants for two seasons (2002-04).
He was named interim head coach of the Wild on Feb. 14, 2020, and led the team to an 8-4-0 record.
Colorado will face the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. MT in an exhibition contest before playing its first Stanley Cup qualifier game against division-rival St. Louis Blues at 4:30 p.m. MT on Sunday, Aug. 2 at Rogers Place.
The Avs will also play the Dallas Stars on Aug. 5 and the Vegas Golden Knights in the round-robin to determine the top four seeds in the Western Conference for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
All of the players and club personnel traveling to Edmonton will live inside a so-called “bubble”— the Phase 4 Secure Zone — and will be tested daily for COVID-19 and be administered daily temperature checks and symptom screenings.
Other Giants alum taking part in the NHL restart include Milan Lucic (Calgary), Tyler Benson (Edmonton), Brendan Gallagher (Montreal), Brett Kulak (Montreal), Kevin Connauton (Colorado) Jordan Martinook (Carolina), and Brennan Menell (Minnesota).
The NHL suspended its season March 12 due to the spread of the global pandemic.