Avalanche

Russian Nikita Zadorov finally reports to Avalanche camp
Nikita Zadorov is going through physicals today. Not practicing. #Avs pic.twitter.com/hotFx3nCED — Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) September 21, 2017 Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov finally reported to training camp Thursday morning, nearly a week after signing a contract extension. The 22-year-old Russian was held up in Ottawa, Ontario, because of issues with his immigration papers. “It usually takes a few days to get it,” Zadorov said from the Pepsi Center, where some of his teammates had participated in a morning skate in preparation for Thursday’s preseason game against the Dallas Stars. “With the situation with Russia and America right now, it’s kind of tough. But it’s nice to get it done.” Zadorov had a physical and off-ice testing, before watching the Avs score three times in the first 5:09 of the game and gonwent on to beat Dallas 5-1. He will practice with the team Friday in split-squad sessions at Family Sports Center. Related ArticlesSeptember 20, 2017 David Warsofsky eyeing spot on Avalanche’s blue line September 20, 2017 Lunch Special: Colorado Avalanche live chat with Mike Chambers September 19, 2017 Alexander Kerfoot gets call to play with MacKinnon, Rantanen in Avs’ preseason opener September 18, 2017 Matt Duchene breaks silence, says his career with Avalanche is “day-by-day” September 15, 2017 Colorado Avalanche covets NCAA captains Colorado visits the Minnesota Wild on Saturday to begin a four-game stretch in six days to wrap up the exhibition season. “I have a few preseason games left, right? So I’m going to play some of them and hopefully get my level back right away,” said Zadorov, who has been training in Ottawa. “But I’ve been skating great. … Let’s get the season going already. I’m ready.” Zadorov played down his opportunity to skip an NHL season to play for a Moscow-based team in the Kontinental Hockey League — a scenario that would have made him eligible to represent Russia at the Olympics in February. Zadorov tentatively had an agreement to play for CSKA Moscow. “I told (Avs general manager) Joe (Sakic) in July we’re not planning to go to KHL, it’s not what I want, I want to play in the best league in the world,” Zadorov said. “I’m still 22 years old, so I got a few Olympics to go, right? If I miss this one it’s not a big deal. But I’ll always respect my country. I love my country. I’m totally Russian and for sure anytime they call me I’m ready to go. “But in this situation my hands are tied. It’s not my decision not to go to Olympics. This is my league, that’s my team, that’s where I’m playing. If players from NHL can’t go to Olympics, it is what it is.” Zadorov, a left-handed shot, is pegged to serve in Colorado’s top pairing with right-handed Erik Johnson. “We’re excited. He’s been texting me every day. He wants me to be here and was happy I came today,” Zadorov said. “I’m real excited to play with him. He’s great player and we had great chemistry last year.” No. 9 will make his preseason debut tonight. Zadorov is at AM skate as spectator #Avs pic.twitter.com/UfcyfPuNHU — Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) September 21, 2017 Footnotes. Center Matt Duchene, who is unhappy with team management and expecting to be traded, made his preseason debut against the Stars and wore an “A” as alternate captain. Duchene shared an “A” with Nathan MacKinnon last season. Duchene, who scored to give the Avs a 5-0 lead against the Stars, politely declined to answer questions after the morning skate. … David Warsofsky, Sven Andrighetto and Sergei Boikov scored at 2:11, 4:03 and 5:09 into Thursday’s game. Alex Kerfoot made it 4-0 in the second period when he redirected a a Warsofsky shot. Goalie Semyon Varlamov played the entire game for the Avs. … Rookie forward Tyson Jost remains out with a groin injury. He did not practice with Thursday’s scratches after the morning skate at the Pepsi Center. Defenseman Tyson Barrie, however, is back with the team after missing some time with a slight shoulder injury. … Colorado had a more veteran lineup than what it had Tuesday in a 4-1 loss to the visiting Vegas Golden Knights. Duchene centered Kerfoot and Nail Yakupov. The second line had rookie J.T. Compher between Gabe Landeskog and Andrighetto. … Four defensemen fighting for opening-night roster spots — Chris Bigras, Warsofsky, Anton Lindholm and Andrei Mironov — were in the lineup. [...]
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NHL hoping to make inroads in China with preseason games
By Justin Bergman, The Associated Press SHANGHAI — As the Vancouver Canucks held their first practice in Shanghai before their exhibition game with the Los Angeles Kings, a dense fog settled over the ice. The humidity in the arena was high and the players could barely see the puck. Large dehumidifiers were rolled in and the mist eventually cleared, but the NHL has perhaps a bigger visibility problem in China — a country with little tradition of winter sports, hockey included. The league is hoping to turn that around with a major push in the country, beginning with its first two preseason games between the Canucks and Kings in Shanghai and Beijing this week. The timing couldn’t be better for the NHL. With Beijing set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, the government is putting a massive emphasis on developing winter sports. Hockey training programs and youth leagues are expanding across China, and the nation’s first professional team, the Kunlan Red Star, plays in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. With interest on the rise, the NHL believes it now has an opportunity to crack a market that has traditionally been more fixated on basketball and soccer. “You don’t quite know what to expect the first time the game is coming here, but I’ve always believed that hockey is a game you need to see live,” Los Angeles Kings coach John Stevens said after Wednesday’s practice. “And once you see it live, you become hooked as a fan.” A glance at the numbers shows just how far the NHL has to go. According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, China has just 1,101 registered players, compared with nearly 556,000 in the U.S. and more than 631,000 in Canada. And the fan base in a nation of more than 1.2 billion people is still in its infancy. On Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, the NHL has just 47,000 followers, some of whom are obviously new to the sport. (One posted a question about the temperature of the arena and what was suitable to wear to the game.) The NBA, which hosted its first preseason exhibition games in China in 2004, boasts more than 33 million followers on Weibo. “We’re learning a lot about how to market here and we’re learning a lot about how tickets are sold,” says David Proper, the NHL’s executive vice president of media and international strategy. “We’re just viewing this as Year 1 of a multi-year project and in Year 1 we may not knock it out of the park . but we can still build over time.” Media exposure certainly helps. State broadcaster CCTV now televises five games per week to Chinese audiences and the Internet giant Tencent streams 14 games per week on its digital platforms, including the Stanley Cup playoffs. The NHL also has an influential partner on the ground in Zhou Yunjie, the billionaire founder of a Chinese drinks packaging company who has devoted significant time and resources to building the game he fell in love with as a youth in Beijing. Zhou’s company, ORG Packaging, is the presenting partner for this week’s exhibition games. “Hockey was actually quite common in northern China back in the ’60s and ’70s, so there is a foundation among the kids in those areas,” Zhou told The Associated Press at his company’s newly opened hockey training base in a Beijing suburb, which includes a fully stocked gym, physical therapy room and a hotel for players attending training camps. Zhou said China’s hockey revival should focus on both universities and a professional league, using the North American, northern European and Russian systems as models. “It will take time before ice hockey really becomes like a religion with young people as it is in the West,” he said. “But ice hockey will definitely catch on with lots of kids.” One thing that will certainly help is developing a home-grown star similar to Yao Ming in basketball and Li Na in tennis. There are promising signs on this front, too. Song Andong became the first China-born player to be drafted in the NHL two years ago, selected by the New York Islanders. The 20-year-old Song has committed to play at Cornell this season. On Monday, the Vancouver Canucks signed 21-year-old Sun Zehao to an amateur tryout contract to serve as the team’s third goaltender for the China preseason games. “He’s working with our goalie coach,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said. “He liked how quick (Sun) was, how competitive he was. . I just think it’s a great experience for him.” The NHL should also get a boost in China as excitement builds for the 2022 Olympics. The league angered its players by deciding not to interrupt its season to allow them to take part in the 2018 Games in South Korea in February. That stance may change for 2022 in the much larger Chinese market. To some, skipping the Pyeongchang Olympics is a missed oppor [...]
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David Warsofsky eyeing spot on Avalanche’s blue line
David Warsofsky enjoyed the ride but didn’t get a ring. Warsofsky, the Avalanche prospect who played in the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ organization last season, was at every practice, every team meeting, and every other mandatory event in the Pens’ run to winning the Stanley Cup in June. The 5-foot-8 defenseman played just nine regular-season games but was among Pittsburgh’s playoff “black aces” — the best of what the team had from its minor-league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Because he didn’t play the minimum 41 regular-season games or one game in the Stanley Cup Final, Warsofky’s name was not engraved on the Cup and he did not order a ring. But he’s now in position to make the Avalanche’s opening-night roster, and expected to play in Thursday’s second preseason game against the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center. His journey with the Penguins has prepared him to play for the Avs. “I got called up at the beginning of the year and then a little more in the middle,” Warsofsky, who had a terrific 2016-17 season for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, said of his time in Pittburgh. “Things really didn’t work out towards the end of the season. But it was good to go down to Wilkes-Barre and kind of get my confidence back, and that helped put me in the position I am today.” Warsofsky, 27, signed with the Avalanche as a free agent July 1. The former Boston University Terrier from Marshfield, Mass., is among six or seven candidates to win three or four jobs on Colorado’s blue line. Warsofsky, who had 16 goals and 47 points in 58 AHL games last season, is perhaps the favorite to solidify a job along with Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov, Tyson Barrie and Mark Barbario. Related ArticlesSeptember 20, 2017 Lunch Special: Colorado Avalanche live chat with Mike Chambers September 19, 2017 Alexander Kerfoot gets call to play with MacKinnon, Rantanen in Avs’ preseason opener September 18, 2017 Matt Duchene breaks silence, says his career with Avalanche is “day-by-day” September 15, 2017 Colorado Avalanche covets NCAA captains September 15, 2017 Avalanche sign defenseman Nikita Zadorov “I can’t say I know a whole lot about him, but he’s a Boston guy, he came in in good condition, he moves the puck well and, let’s face it: there’s huge openings on our blue line,” Johnson said of Warsofsky. “There’s jobs to be had and he’s definitely in the mix. He’s looked great.” Warsofsky likes his chances. He’s competing for a spot with fellow veteran Jared Cowen, 26, who is on a professional tryout contract, and a handful of rookies. Warsofsky is the smallest of the bunch, but probably the quickest. “When you’re in position like I am, and you can make break-out passes and get the puck to the open forwards, good things are going to happen,” Warsofsky said. “Twenty years ago I don’t think someone like me could make it in the NHL. But the way with the team is going nowadays, teams need (speed) from the back end and do the things I can do. I can definitely be useful, whether it’s the 5-6 pair or (top-four). I’m clean getting out of our own end and I can jump up into the rush and getting scoring opportunities. I can help contribute. Footnote. The Avalanche had Wednesday off but reassigned three players to lower its preseason roster to 48. Defensemen Gage Ausmus and Nicolas Meloche were sent to AHL affiliate San Antonio and forward Ty Lewis was returned to his junior team in Brandon, Manitoba. [...]
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Alexander Kerfoot gets the call to play with Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen in the Avalanche’s preseason opener
Harvard graduate Alexander Kerfoot made his NHL preseason debut Tuesday playing left wing on a line with veterans Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. The thing is, Kerfoot is the old man of the Avalanche’s top line. He’s 23. MacKinnon, who is beginning his fifth NHL season, turned 22 on Sept. 1, and Rantanen, who led Colorado with 20 goals last season as a rookie, will be 21 next month. Still, it was Kerfoot who felt like the youngster after Tuesday’s morning skate at the Pepsi Center, where Colorado later hosted the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. “It’s a pretty cool opportunity. They’re pretty special hockey players,” said Kerfoot, a 2013 New Jersey Devils draft pick who became a free agent Aug. 16. “Obviously, I’m really excited, but I don’t want to get too nervous; playing with those guys can be nerve-wracking at times. I just want to play my game and stay focused, try to keep things simple but also make plays and give them the puck.” The Avalanche did not get off to a good start Tuesday. Vegas took a 3-0 lead after the first period, scoring two 5-on-3 power-play goals and outshooting Colorado 13-5. Kerfoot, who served as Harvard’s captain last season and tied for a team-high 45 points in 36 games, is being given every opportunity to make the Avalanche out of training camp. He has practiced only with Colorado’s top forwards — including Matt Duchene, Gabe Landeskog and Tyson Jost. A true center, Kerfoot is more likely to make the team if Duchene gets his desired trade. The Avalanche has 10 forwards on one-way contracts, plus Rantanen, Jost and J.T. Compher on their two-way, entry-level deals. Those youngsters will make the open-night roster, barring injury. The Avs typically carry 13 or 14 forwards. Kerfoot and others might also take advantage of what could be a long-term back injury to veteran forward Joe Colborne. For now, Kerfoot is just soaking in the game-day excitement. “It’s pretty incredible being at the Pepsi Center, doing the morning skate,” he said. “This is why you play the game, to play in this situation. It’s only preseason, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.” As expected, the Avs went with a youthful lineup before making likely reassignments Wednesday. The other three lines featured J.C. Beaudin between Andrew Agozzino and Rocco Grimaldi; Carl Soderberg centering Matt Nieto and Travis Barron; and wingers Gabriel Bourque and Ty Lewis with center Dominic Toninato. Toninato, 23, is another four-year NCAA player who became a free agent last month and chose rebuilding Colorado over a handful of other teams. He and Kerfoot both captained their teams to the NCAA Frozen Four in April; Toninato played for national runner-up Minnesota Duluth. Related ArticlesSeptember 18, 2017 Matt Duchene breaks silence, says his career with Avalanche is “day-by-day” September 15, 2017 Colorado Avalanche covets NCAA captains September 15, 2017 Avalanche sign defenseman Nikita Zadorov September 14, 2017 Matt Duchene reports for Avalanche training camp: “I’m here to honor my contract” September 13, 2017 Avalanche reverts to #WhyNotUs theme from 2013-14 “I’m really excited for the challenge,” Toninato said. “It’s what all of us have been working for all summer, to finally get in these games. Hopefully, I can have a big game. My main goal is to make the team out of camp. I want to stay as long as I can. I just have to keep playing my game and showing what I got. My game is 200 feet, take pride in the D zone and I like to get to the dirty areas in front of the net — tip pucks, get rebounds.” The Avalanche’s defensive pairings were rookie Duncan Siemens with veteran Erik Johnson, journeyman Jared Cowen (professional tryout contract) with rookie Nicolas Meloche and rookie Mason Geertsen playing with 2017 second-round draft pick Conor Timmins. Goalie Spencer Martin was in net. Footnotes. Former Avs goalie Calvin Pickard was not in the lineup for the Golden Knights, who selected him in the June expansion draft. … Jost is nursing a groin injury he says is not serious. … About 15 Avalanche players who weren’t in Tuesday’s lineup practiced after the team’s morning skate. Jost was absent, along with forwards Colborne and rookie Julien Nantel. … Vegas traveled to Denver on Tuesday and did not have a morning skate. [...]
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Devils’ Brian Boyle diagnosed with cancer, expects to keep playing
New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team’s doctor said can largely be treated with medication. Boyle has been away from the team during training camp while getting diagnosed. On a conference call Tuesday, Boyle said he hopes to start playing hockey again soon. “We have a good plan of attack here and I’m looking forward to getting on the ice and playing,” Boyle said. “When that happens I don’t know, but my mindset is Oct. 7.” Boyle, who played last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs and whose wife, Lauren, had a baby girl in May, said he felt mostly fatigued but chalked it up to life events. General manager Ray Shero said the cancer was discovered in bloodwork during the Devils’ team physicals at the start of camp. CML is the same disease that former NHL forward Jason Blake played through after being diagnosed in 2007. Boyle said he hasn’t reached out to Blake to discuss how he dealt with it. Related ArticlesSeptember 18, 2017 As No. 1 pick Nico Hischier debuts, Switzerland’s NHL influence continues to climb September 13, 2017 Avalanche reverts to #WhyNotUs theme from 2013-14 September 7, 2017 Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen, 20, already an established NHL player September 6, 2017 Florida Panthers evacuating players, staff out of Hurricane Irma’s path August 30, 2017 Shane Doan, Arizona Coyotes captain, retires after 21 years in NHL Boyle said based on what team doctor Michael Farber and others have told him, he expects to live his life under normal conditions. The 32-year-old signed a $5.5 million, two-year deal with New Jersey in July. “We are in a good place right now,” Boyle said. “With the potential of what it could have been and what it turned out to be, I think that’s a positive thing.” Farber said the Devils “are awaiting further testing results that will help guide management in any possible return to play.” Boyle is a veteran of 624 NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Lightning and Maple Leafs and has 93 goals and 76 assists. The Devils signed him for his veteran leadership and faceoff abilities. [...]
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Colorado Avalanche to retire Milan Hejduk’s No. 23 sweater
No Avalanche player has donned the No. 23 sweater since Milan Hejduk retired after the 2012-13 season, and nobody ever will. The Avs on Wednesday announced they will retire Hejduk’s No. 23 to the Pepsi Center rafters Jan. 6 before a game against the visiting Minnesota Wild. Twenty-three will be the sixth number retired in Avalanche history, joining Joe Sakic (19), Peter Forsberg (21), Patrick Roy (33), Adam Foote (52) and Ray Bourque (77). “This is the biggest individual recognition of my career,” Hejduk said Wednesday. “It’s a special feeling.” Hejduk, a 1994 fourth-round selection of the Quebec Nordiques, which became the Avalanche in 1995, said he was given No. 23 at his first NHL training camp, “then I made the team so I stuck with it.” Related ArticlesSeptember 18, 2017 Matt Duchene breaks silence, says his career with Avalanche is “day-by-day” September 15, 2017 Colorado Avalanche covets NCAA captains September 15, 2017 Avalanche sign defenseman Nikita Zadorov September 14, 2017 Matt Duchene reports for Avalanche training camp: “I’m here to honor my contract” September 13, 2017 Avalanche reverts to #WhyNotUs theme from 2013-14 Sakic, now the Avalanche’s general manager, said getting Hejduk’s number retired has been years in the making. “Planning this for a couple years now, trying to figure what the right time is. It’s long overdue for what’s Milan’s done for our organization, what he does for the community. He’s an ambassador here for the Avalanche. You just look at the stats, and what he did,” Sakic said. Hejduk, 41, played all 14 of his NHL seasons with the Avalanche and helped the team win the 2001 Stanley Cup. He finished his career with 375 goals and 805 points in 1,020 games. The Avalanche is selling $23 upper-level tickets for the Jan. 6 game against the Wild. The 23-hour sale began at 9 a.m. Wednesday and will end at 8 a.m. Thursday. Visit ColoradoAvalanche.com/tickets for more information. [...]
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Matt Duchene breaks silence, says his career with Avalanche is “day-by-day”
Matt Duchene broke his silence Monday in an interview in the Avalanche’s regular locker room. The unhappy center hadn’t spoken publicly since making a 19-second statement Thursday when veterans reported for training camp at the Pepsi Center. “I’m not going to predict the future on my longevity here,” Duchene, the team’s longest-tenured player, told The Denver Post. “I’m day by day. I’m just enjoying playing hockey. A lot got blown out of proportion. I said what I wanted to say then. Nothing’s changed since Thursday. I’m here to get better, I’m here for those reasons — that I said on Thursday.” Matt Duchene post practice EXCLUSIVE #Avs pic.twitter.com/Gy903qwL21 — Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) September 18, 2017 On Thursday, Duchene said he reported to honor his contract, his teammates and fans. He has been on the trade block for much of the year, and he was surprised he wasn’t dealt before the March 1 trade deadline or after June 12 when the trade market reopened. Duchene, 26, began his NHL career at age 18 in 2009, months after being selected third overall in the draft. He is not expected to play in Colorado’s preseason opener Tuesday against the expansion Vegas Golden Knights at the Pepsi Center. Avs coach Jared Bednar said just seven veterans will play in that game — the first step in putting last season’s 48-point, last-place season behind them. Related ArticlesSeptember 15, 2017 Colorado Avalanche covets NCAA captains September 15, 2017 Avalanche sign defenseman Nikita Zadorov September 14, 2017 Matt Duchene reports for Avalanche training camp: “I’m here to honor my contract” September 13, 2017 Avalanche reverts to #WhyNotUs theme from 2013-14 September 13, 2017 Avalanche GM Joe Sakic comments on Matt Duchene, Nikita Zadorov “I love playing hockey. I want to win,” Duchene said. “That’s the biggest thing on my mind. I’m trying to get better every time I touch the ice right now.” Asked if he has doubts the Avalanche is capable of winning, Duchene said: “Um, I mean, like I said, I’m taking it one day at a time and seeing what’s going on.” What if he’s not traded? “I’m not looking that far (ahead),” he said. “I’m taking one day at a time.” Before retiring to the player’s lounge, Duchene asked to add this about his teammates: “The guys came in in awesome shape. Everybody looks as good as they could possibly look, in my opinion.” Footnotes. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who agreed to a two-year contract Friday, has yet to report to the team because of immigration issues. His estimated time of arrival is uncertain, an Avs spokesman said. … Former Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard, who was selected by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft, is not expected to play Tuesday, he said in a text message. … Avs forwards Joe Colborne and Tyson Jost didn’t practice Monday, and forwards Colin Wilson and Julien Nantel and defenseman Tyson Barrie skated on their own. [...]
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Lunch Special: Which Avalanche rookies will make an impact this year?
The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers answered questions about the Colorado Avalanche in a live Lunch Special chat on Wednesday. Here are the highlights: Matt Duchene‘s been missing a lot of things lately. Is this hurting his trade value? Mike: Matt Duchene’s absence probably hurts what the Avalanche could get for him. It’s just not a good situation. I really don’t know if he’ll report tomorrow morning. But certainly, teams around the league know the Avs must move the player if he doesn’t report. I don’t envision a long holdout here. The Avs need a top-four D too much for them to play this out long-term. If Duchene is a no show to camp, do you think he is at all concerned about being disliked by fans? Mike: As a fan you’re entitled to think what you want about No. 9. But knowing him how I do, I can tell you his character and professionalism is extraordinary, and I believe his no-show this past week is a result of the person being emotionally overwhelmed. What is the latest on Big Z? Mike: I’m hoping to get an update on Zadorov today. They really need him. Right now they only have Johnson, Barrie, Barberio and Cowen (PTO) with experience on the back end. Seems scary to begin the year with rookies Mironov, Bigras, Lindholm, Siemens each in the picture. How do the lines shape out if we get rid of Duchene? Mike: With no Duchene, your top six is probably MacKinnon between Landeskog/Andrighetto and Jost centering Rantanen/Compher. But you have to consider Yakupov, Wilson, Nieto … maybe AJ Greer. Probably Comeau/Colborne/Soderberg etc. in bottom six. Who am I missing? So with Milan Hejduk being the last of the old era to be put to the rafters, do you think there is anyone on current roster who will retire as an Avs? Mike: Winning Cups is the key, Fred, and this team isn’t ready to do that, right? I expect Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost to be here a long time. And I looked this up the other day: Gabe Landeskog has the most goals and points (games too, maybe) among the entire 2011 draft class. I might have that mixed up a bit but 92 is up there. Can you comment on any future plans for a new Avalanche practice rink? Mike: Yes. The team is on another 1-year deal with Family Sports, which is owned by South Suburban Parks and Rec. They would like to build on their KSE-owned property at Elitch Gardens, beside the PC. But the city ordinances etc. are involved and this project could take time. But building the facility between Elitch’s and the PC is the goal. The Blackhawks just finished theirs beside the UC in Chicago. Is Varly a long-term solution between the pipes? His contract runs out next year… Mike: Varlamov’s $5.9 cap hit carries through 2018-19. We’ll just have to see how he holds up until then. He’ll be 31 at the end of that deal, still young enough to get another big deal. His performances will determine that. Are there any rookies you think will make an immediate impact for the Avs this season? Mike: Oh yeah, that’s what this is all about — Joe Sakic giving a handful of rookies a big chance. Tyson Jost, J.T. Compher, maybe A.J. Greer, up front … and perhaps college free agents Alex Kerfoot and Dominic Toninato. On D, I know Sakic is super high on Andrei Mironov. I envision Jost, Compher and Mironov will definitely make the team out of camp. What do you think of the Avs moving their AHL team to Loveland next year working out? So far their experiments in Cleveland and San Antonio seem to be temporary assignments. Mike: I think the Avs’ AHL moving from San Antonio to Loveland is completely awesome for every hockey person in this market. I broke that story last month and I guarantee it will happen — A FORMAL ANNOUNCEMENT could come any day. Hey, an Avalanche player gets hurt and you can call up a player by calling an Uber. Just a fantastic situation. Mobile users, if you don’t see the live chat, tap here. The chat window will open at 11:10 a.m. if you would like to submit your questions to the queue early. (function(d, s, id) {var js,ijs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//embed.scribblelive.com/widgets/embed.js";ijs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ijs);}(document, "script", "scrbbl-js"));It seems to me the Avs are going to struggle again this year, based on the roster. Do you have any reason to believe otherwise? They just seem outmanned to me.OK, folks, that's all for today. Need to run to the PC to speak to Sakic and Hejduk. Thanks for the chat. Take care!!!James: They'll be much younger, and quicker. Their D still has giant holes but the young guys (plus Jared Cowen) could be the answer. Expect Mikko Rantanen to take off in Year 2 and Tyson Jost, J.T. Compher and maybe A.J. Greer to be fun to watch. Most of it boils down to Semyon Varlamov -- will he return to the great goalie he once was.Leash? Jared Bednar will [...]
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Matt Duchene reports for Avalanche training camp: “I’m here to honor my contract”
Matt Duchene reported to Avalanche training camp Thursday morning but the 26-year-old center hardly seems excited about playing for a team that has tried to trade him for most of 2017. Duchene, who did not participate in last week’s captains skates or Tuesday’s annual Avalanche charity golf tournament, met with the media for 19 seconds at the Pepsi Center. He seemed uncomfortable. “Guys, to start, I’m not taking any questions right now. I’m here to honor my contract, I’m here for respect of the fans, and I’m here for my teammates. I had a great summer training and I’m in good physical condition, so thanks so much I’ll see you in the next couple days, OK?” he said. Matt Duchene says he’s here honoring contract and teammates. No questions #Avs pic.twitter.com/kiHoIaSSOe — Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) September 14, 2017 Duchene, who is under contract at $6 million annually through 2018-19, has been on the trading block for most of 2017 and remains there. He was the fourth of five Avalanche players to be brought out to the locker room by the PR staff. Captain Gabe Landeskog was the first, and said this about Duchene being the only player under contract to skip the captains skates and golf tournament: “I’ve had some conversations with him over the time, and he just wanted to train and skate up in Toronto. He was here when he had to be, so it’s all good.” Defenseman Tyson Barrie was brought out after Duchene. “It’s a tough situation but he’s here and he’s here for us, and we need him,” Barrie said of Duchene. “As of right now, he’s part of the Avalanche and going forward he’s going to be. So it’s nice to have him back. He’s a heckuva player.” Related ArticlesSeptember 15, 2017 Colorado Avalanche covets NCAA captains September 15, 2017 Avalanche sign defenseman Nikita Zadorov September 13, 2017 Avalanche reverts to #WhyNotUs theme from 2013-14 September 13, 2017 Avalanche GM Joe Sakic comments on Matt Duchene, Nikita Zadorov September 13, 2017 Lunch Special: Which Avalanche rookies will make an impact this year? In an ensuing press conference, second-year coach Jared Bednar was told of Duchene’s cameo appearance with the media, and a reporter noted that Duchene “obviously doesn’t want to be here.” “He’s here,” Bednar said. “I think Matt is a prideful guy. I haven’t had a chance to speak with him this morning but I wouldn’t go as far to say he obviously doesn’t want to be here. He’s here, he’s a prideful guy, he’s a hard-working guy, he’s a real good player and I expect he’ll come on the ice tomorrow, and today in their testing, and give it his all — just like he’s throughout his career.” Jared Bednar talks more about Matt Duchene’s situation #Avs pic.twitter.com/DZw6dkFa2i — Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) September 14, 2017 Zadorov absent. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov remains unsigned as a restricted free agent and did not participate in team activities Thursday. On Wednesday, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said contract negotiations are “close enough that he should be here.” Zadorov, 22, has threatened to play in the Kontinental Hockey League in his native Russia and represent his country in the Olympics in February. Footnote. The Avs are carrying 32 forwards, 18 defensemen and five goalies for training camp. On-ice sessions begin Friday morning at Family Sports Center in Centennial. [...]
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Avalanche sign defenseman Nikita Zadorov
The Avalanche and young defenseman Nikita Zadorov agreed to terms on a two-year, $4.3 million contract Friday. Zadorov, 22, did not report to training camp Thursday and did not begin on-ice sessions with the team Friday. He could join the team as soon as Saturday, coach Jared Bednar said. “We’re excited about getting him done and getting him in here as soon as possible,” Bednar said after a two-session practice at Family Sports Center. Zadorov, 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, has 145 games of NHL experience. The shutdown defenseman will begin his third season in Colorado after being acquired in the 2015 six-player trade that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Buffalo Sabres. Zadorov played in 56 games with the Avalanche last season, producing 10 points (zero goals). No comment. Veteran center Matt Duchene skated in the second session but was not available to the media in the locker room afterward. Duchene, who is presumably unhappy with the organization for having him on the trade block most of the year, went from the ice to a players-only area of the building to change into his gym clothes. When Duchene reported for camp Thursday at the Pepsi Center, he said he was only there to honor his contract, his teammates and fans. He skated on a line with college free agent Alex Kerfoot and 2012 No. 1 overall draft pick Nail Yakupov. “I thought he went to work today. I thought he was great,” Bednar said of Duchene. “That whole line, Kerfoot, Yakupov and him, they scored some nice goals, had some chemistry. It was good to watch. Obviously, three talented offensive guys. I thought that was a real good line in the second group. It’s good to see that.” Related ArticlesSeptember 15, 2017 Colorado Avalanche covets NCAA captains September 14, 2017 Matt Duchene reports for Avalanche training camp: “I’m here to honor my contract” September 13, 2017 Avalanche reverts to #WhyNotUs theme from 2013-14 September 13, 2017 Avalanche GM Joe Sakic comments on Matt Duchene, Nikita Zadorov September 13, 2017 Lunch Special: Which Avalanche rookies will make an impact this year? Footnotes. Center Tyson Jost, 19, the Avs’ first-round draft pick in 2016, skated in the first session but bowed out of conditioning laps at the end for “maintenance” reasons. Jost said he tweaked his groin in the recent rookie showcase but is fine, and the team wants to avoid exhaustive skating while he fully recovers. … Former DU standout Sam Brittain is among five goalies in training camp. Brittain, 25, split time in the AHL and ECHL last season and is hoping to win the backup job behind Spencer Martin at San Antonio. [...]
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Colorado Avalanche covets NCAA captains
Avalanche prospect Gage Ausmus, a two-year captain for the University of North Dakota, is beginning his professional career in Denver — four years after he was scheduled to become a freshman at the University of Denver. Ausmus de-committed from DU after then-Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky was fired April 1, 2013. Ausmus, from East Grand Forks, Minn., signed on with nearby North Dakota in Grand Forks, and four years later, the 6-foot-2 defenseman is on a tryout contract with the Avalanche, and continues to serve as big brother to forward Tyson Jost, Colorado’s top prospect who played for North Dakota last season as a freshman. “Gage is a great captain, a great guy at North Dakota,” Jost said Friday during Avalanche training camp at Family Sports Center. “He has respect with that program big-time — he’s idolized throughout that city (of Grand Forks). He really helped me along my freshman year. Coming into a new environment, a new school, as a young guy, you really don’t know what to expect. Gage was always there and always had your back. He’s an awesome human and I’m glad he’s here.” Former NCAA captains abound at Avalanche training camp. Defenseman Nolan De Jong inherited the “C” from second-year forward J.T. Compher at Michigan, and Dominic Toninato of Minnesota-Duluth and Alex Kerfoot of Harvard captained their teams to the NCAA Frozen Four in April. Ausmus wore the “C” as a junior when North Dakota won the 2016 national championship in Tampa, Fla. Ausmus, 22, said he was inconsistent last season as a senior and was not offered a contract with the San Jose Sharks, who selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. He became a free agent Aug. 16 and signed with Colorado, which has become big on signing proven leaders. “I’m just really, really grateful for the opportunity to be here and showcase my talents,” Ausmus said. “Last season, I didn’t have too great of a year, and that’s why I’m basically fighting for a contract right now. I’m thankful I got the invite. I worked hard this summer. So we’ll see what happens.” Ausmus was paired with De Jong during the recent rookie showcase tournament in San Jose, Calif. Those young defensemen and most of Colorado’s other prospects will be assigned to the American Hockey League camp of the San Antonio Rampage next week. Related ArticlesSeptember 15, 2017 Avalanche sign defenseman Nikita Zadorov September 14, 2017 Matt Duchene reports for Avalanche training camp: “I’m here to honor my contract” September 13, 2017 Avalanche reverts to #WhyNotUs theme from 2013-14 September 13, 2017 Avalanche GM Joe Sakic comments on Matt Duchene, Nikita Zadorov September 13, 2017 Lunch Special: Which Avalanche rookies will make an impact this year? “With him and De Jong, the captain at Michigan, you’ve got two guys that have the leadership qualities and character that you’re looking for,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “From here, they’ll go to San Antonio’s camp. But there are holes on the back end; we’re looking for depth. It’s similar to the Kerfoot and Toninato signings. I think the organization is going a great job in exploring all our options, to kind of build the stable, whether it’s for this year, next year, the future, to make sure we have guys pushing from underneath.” Ausmus realizes the Avs are big on leadership, his strength. “The more leaders you have in a locker room, the better off you’re going to be,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a letter on the jersey or not. Tyson Jost last year, an 18-year-old freshman for us, was one of the biggest leaders on our team, by far. So the more guys you have like that, the more consistent and competitive you’re group is going to be.” Ausmus enjoyed his four years at UND but figures he would have also had a great experience at DU under coach Jim Montgomery, who guided the Pioneers to the national championship in April. Ausmus was drawn to North Dakota because of then-assistant coach Brad Berry, who is now the head coach of the Fighting Hawks. “I was happy with my decision to come to Denver and I loved the coaching staff that recruited me — Steve Miller, (David) Lassonde and Gwozdecky,” Ausmus said. “I felt comfortable with them. But when they left … it made me think about my decision. Nothing against Coach Montgomery — he’s obviously become one of the greatest coaches in college — but at the time I questioned my decision and I knew Brad Berry from the skills stuff I did growing up and wanted to play for him.” [...]
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Kiszla: Gone in 15 seconds. Good vibe at Avs camp? Matt Duchene killed it. Trade him now.
Tense and irritable, Matt Duchene walked through the Avalanche locker room doors on the first day of training camp as a prisoner of a bad hockey team. Duchene acted like he would rather be anywhere but here. “I’m here to honor my contract,” Duchene said Thursday, during an edgy 15-second statement to the media before he spun on his heels and walked away without answering a single question. “I’m here out of respect for the fans. I’m here for my teammates. …” Well, alrighty then. I think that went well. Don’t you? Duchene is a 5-foot-11, 195-pound manifestation of the most dysfunctional team in Denver sports. Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic made this mess. But know what’s really messed up? The same as with many things related to operating a successful franchise, Sakic seems to have zero clue what to do about the festering Duchene situation. Isn’t it obvious? Duchene must go. The relationship between Matty Ice and the Avs is so frosty it could send shivers down the spine of a whole army of White Walkers from “Game of Thrones.” Truth be known, Duchene should have been gone in February, when the NHL trade deadline passed with him in a Colorado uniform. It’s no secret he expected to be dealt for desperately needed help on the blue line during the summer. Sakic had one job to do. He had to clean out the Avs’ garage and offer Dutchy in a yard sale. Now the entire NHL has seen and heard video evidence of a tiff between Duchene and Sakic, which can only undercut the trade value for their 26-year old center. The smart strategy to get maximum value for a $6 million player who was an ugly minus-34 for the league’s worst team would be to pump up Duchene as a three-time gold medal winner for Canada at the Olympics and World Championships. Instead, Duchene has backed Sakic into a grump-and-dump corner. Blame Duchene for a lack of professionalism while dragging a dark cloud of controversy with him to the first day of training camp, if you want. He’s not beyond criticism. While possessing the offensive skills to dazzle on any sheet of ice, Duchene’s lapses of mental toughness probably make him a better candidate for second-line center on a true championship contender. But he does really, really care, as evidenced by the heart worn on the burgundy sleeve of that No. 9 sweater. Much to his fans’ chagrin, I have advocated trading Duchene more than once in recent years. But I’m 100 percent with Dutchy in this case. He has been done dirty by the Avs. After being selected third in the 2009 draft, Duchene was first ballyhooed as a worthy heir to Sakic as a playmaker, then backstabbed from the jump by former coach Joe Sacco as not being all that. In eight seasons with the Avs, Duchene has become the face of an NHL train wreck. It’s Sakic, not Duchene, who has driven this franchise so rapidly down the wrong track that the Avs have gone off the rails. Related ArticlesSeptember 13, 2017 Kiszla: The real Big D? All bragging aside, the Broncos are better at football than America’s Team September 12, 2017 Kiszla: Are the Broncos any good? Or just plain lucky? Big questions after 24-21 win in opener. September 11, 2017 Kiszla: What the Broncos need to do to be legit Super Bowl contenders September 9, 2017 Kiszla: Here’s an easy-to-follow, 7-point plan for the Broncos to make the NFL playoffs September 9, 2017 Kickin’ it with Kiz: Can Broncos Country find kindness in its heart to forgive Brock “The Traitor” Osweiler? I asked coach Jared Bednar if it’s Duchene’s responsibility to not check out on the Avs while dreaming of greener pastures, or is it the staff’s challenge to reel him back in after a tough season? “I can’t speak to Matt’s mind-set,” Bednar said. “I spoke to him at the end of the year, and I know it was a tough finish for him. I know things weighed on his mind. I’m on his side. We’re all in this together. I think that organizationally we want what’s best for Matt. It’s up to him to get his mind ready to get up and compete for this team.” It’s not the professionalism of Duchene I’m worried about. But after dangling him as trade bait for months, if the Avs truly want what’s best for Duchene, they will cut a deal. This is an NHL team that desperately needed to hit the reset button. The clueless Avs, however, are right back in crisis mode from Day 1. [...]
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Avalanche GM Joe Sakic comments on Matt Duchene, Nikita Zadorov
After participating in Milan Hejduk’s informal jersey retirement press conference at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic was pulled to the side and briefly spoke off-camera about the sticky situations with center Matt Duchene and defenseman Nikita Zadorov. Sakic said he has not spoken to Duchene over the summer but expects the 26-year-old to report for training camp Thursday morning. Duchene, who has been on the trade market most of the year, did not participate in last week’s optional captains skates or the Avalanche’s annual charity golf tournament Tuesday. Duchene’s agent said his client is training in Toronto, but Duchene attended a wedding in Vail on Sept. 2 — three days before Avs captain Gabe Landeskog led the first captains skate and said it’s expected that everyone arrives more than a week before training camp begins. Zadorov, meanwhile, is unsigned as a restricted free agent. Sakic said the two sides are “close enough that he should be here.” Zadorov, 22, has threatened to play in the Kontinental Hockey League this season, a move that would make him eligible to represent Russia at the Olympics in February. If Zadorov chooses to sit out the NHL season, the Avalanche will continue to own his rights. [...]
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