Hockey on the Rocks http://www.hockeyontherocks.com Covering hockey with altitude! Mon, 29 Jul 2013 19:42:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6Covering hockey with altitude! Hockey on the Rocks yes Hockey on the Rocks ryan@hockeyontherocks.com ryan@hockeyontherocks.com (Hockey on the Rocks) Copyright © Hockey on the Rocks 2013 Hockey on the Rocks Podcasts Sports, Hockey, Colorado Avalanche, Avalanche, Hockey on the Rocks, Two Guys One Puck, NHL, Colorado Eagles, Denver Cutthroats, University of Denver, Pioneers Hockey on the Rocks http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpghttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com TV-14 Denver, CO Weekly Colorado Tour highlights 2013-14 Denver Cutthroats schedulehttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/cutthroats/colorado-tour-highlights-2013-14-denver-cutthroats-schedule/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/cutthroats/colorado-tour-highlights-2013-14-denver-cutthroats-schedule/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 19:23:26 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8552 Hockey fans living in remote parts of the state will receive a special treat from the Denver Cutthroats this January when the team goes on its first ever Colorado Tour.The Cutthroats schedule was released last week and with it came the news that the club would be hosting four games in Colorado [...]

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Hockey fans living in remote parts of the state will receive a special treat from the Denver Cutthroats this January when the team goes on its first ever Colorado Tour.

The Cutthroats schedule was released last week and with it came the news that the club would be hosting four games in Colorado outside of the Denver Coliseum. Dubbed the Colorado Tour, the event will allow the Cutthroats to host home games while waiting out the National Western Stock Show, which takes over the Coliseum during the month of January.

Unlike last year, when the Fish spent the entire month playing on the road, the local players will have the chance to bring the game to those outside of the city while also getting a chance to break in between road trips. The club will start the new year off with two contests against the Tulsa Oilers at Lewis Ice Arena in Aspen, Colorado on January 3rd and 4th. They hit the road for six games after that before returning to John A. Dobson Arena in Vail, Colorado for a two game series against the Arizona Sundogs on January 24th and 25th.

Both venues are expected to seat approximately 1000 rabid hockey fans and offer a unique experience for both players and spectators alike.

“The 2013-14 season brings exciting opportunities for Denver Cutthroats fans throughout the state,” said Cutthroats President Ben Rifkin in a press release. “From our inaugural Cutthroats Colorado Tour in Vail and Aspen to our extended home stand in February, new and loyal fans will all have access to catch our special blend of professional hockey and entertainment.”

The Colorado tour is just one of the highlights of the Cutthroats’ second season in the CHL. The club will face the Ray Miron President’s Cup winning Allen Americans seven times this year, including twice at home. The Fish will also welcome two new teams to the pond in Denver when the Brampton Beast and St. Charles Chill come to town early in the season. In February, the Cutthroats will host eight straight matches at home, their longest stint of the season.

Denver’s home opener is set for Friday, October 18th, against the Oilers and kicks off a five game home stand to start the year.

Single game tickets will be on sale starting in September – after open tryouts – and Colorado Tour tickets will be available in November.

Want the Cutthroats schedule on your computer or phone?

:: Download the Denver Cutthroats schedule | Subscribe to it! ::

 

What do you think? Will you go on the Colorado Tour? Excited for season 2?

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2013-14 Avalanche schedule & key dateshttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/colorado-avalanche-schedule-key-dates/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/colorado-avalanche-schedule-key-dates/#comments Wed, 24 Jul 2013 19:59:51 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8541 The Colorado Avalanche schedule came out last week but the full rundown of the coming year was missing one key date. Now that all the information has been released, fans of the squad can begin planning their season.The Avalanche announced the date of the annual Burgundy/White game yesterday, [...]

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The Colorado Avalanche schedule came out last week but the full rundown of the coming year was missing one key date. Now that all the information has been released, fans of the squad can begin planning their season.

The Avalanche announced the date of the annual Burgundy/White game yesterday, completing the schedule for the 2013-14 campaign. The intra-squad scrimmage caps off a weekend of training camp that begins on Thursday, September 12th in Denver and ends on Sunday, September 15th at the Air Force Academy outside of Colorado Springs.

Featuring a 12 p.m. MST puck drop, the Burgundy/White match is the last chance to catch many of Colorado’s young prospects on the ice before they’re reassigned to their respective clubs. It’s also the kick off to preseason as the Avs will face the Anaheim Ducks just three days later at the Pepsi Center.

Tickets to the Burgundy/White game are on sale now.

The preseason stretch will feature six contests in ten days and ends with Frozen Fury XV against the Los Angeles Kings in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, September 28th. Those looking to attend the fan-favorite event in the desert have the option of catching another Kings game, against the New York Rangers, the night before as well. Tickets for both are going fast already.

The Colorado Avalanche then return home to open the year against the Ducks on Wednesday, October 2nd, at 7:30 p.m. MST.

The coming season is special for Colorado as it marks the first time that every other team in the NHL will come to play in Denver since the league hit 30 teams in 2000-01.

The Avalanche will play seven home games on Fridays, eight on Saturdays, and five on Sundays this season as they move into the newly named Central Division of the Western Conference.

Some must see events include Thursday, October 17th vs the Detroit Red Wings – newly relocated to the Eastern Conference; Sunday, October 27th against the Winnipeg Jets; Saturday, November 2nd vs. the Montreal Canadiens; Sunday, November 10th against the Washington Capitals; Tuesday, November 19th vs. the Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks; Tuesday, December 31st – New Years Eve – against the Columbus Blue Jackets; essentially every game against an Eastern Conference club in January (Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs); and that’s all before the Olympic break in February.

Tickets aren’t quite on sale yet but be on the lookout for package deals that will get you in to see some of the best around the league.

For a look at all of the dates, download or subscribe to the complete schedule below. For those who subscribed last year, the new lineup is already live.

 

:: Download the Colorado Avalanche schedule. | Subscribe to it! ::

 

What do you think? Who do you HAVE to see this season? Going to Vegas?

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Five Colorado Avalanche players invited to Olympics orientation campshttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/five-colorado-avalanche-players-invited-to-olympics-orientation-camps/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/five-colorado-avalanche-players-invited-to-olympics-orientation-camps/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 01:54:50 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8534 Only coming once every four years, the Winter Olympics is a treat for hockey fans who get to see players from different teams amalgamated into super squads competing for national pride and the honor that comes with bringing home a gold medal.For many in the NHL, the chance to play in the Olympics [...]

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Only coming once every four years, the Winter Olympics is a treat for hockey fans who get to see players from different teams amalgamated into super squads competing for national pride and the honor that comes with bringing home a gold medal.

For many in the NHL, the chance to play in the Olympics is a dream that will never be fulfilled. Only the best, those most suited to the blueprint of the team, get the chance to do battle.

Even so, the NHL Players Association lobbied hard for participation in the coming 2014 games in Sochi, Russia and their desires won out. With a deal falling into place between the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and the IOC, and the NHL schedule leaving room for a shutdown in February, it’s officially time for business for national teams.

Given that there’s just seven months to prepare, organizations like USA Hockey and Hockey Canada have begun releasing preliminary rosters for orientation camps set to take place this fall. As of today, five Colorado Avalanche players have been invited to represent their countries at camp in August with a chance at going all the way to the main event.

Matt Duchene, Semyon Varlamov, Erik Johnson, Paul Stastny, and Gabriel Landeskog will all look to make their respective national teams.

Varlamov seems the most obvious invite, not only because the Winter Games take place in his home country, but also because he served as a backup for Russia during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He will compete with fellow NHLers Evgeni Nabokov and Sergei Bobrovsky as well as with Konstantin Barulin and Vasily Koshechkin for the starting role. Varlamov, who won the 2012 World Championship as a starter, performs very well at an international level and stands a good chance of making the squad.

Hockey Canada saw some success with Duchene during this year’s World Championship tournament where he put away four goals and one assist in eight games. Playing alongside guys like Steven Stamkos and Claude Giroux certainly helped as well. Chemistry with those guys will only help his chances of making the 2014 team but there will definitely be some stiff competition for the vacant seats on the bench.

Hockey Canada also already has a specific makeup in mind for the coming games and the emphasis will be on footwork with the ability to adjust to an international ice sheet if they hope to repeat their gold medal win.

“Ultimately, we’ll pick the best players available to us, but playing on a bigger ice surface, I believe there is a priority on being able to skate,” Steve Yzerman, Executive Director for Hockey Canada, told Canadian media members on a conference call. “That will weigh into our final decisions on putting this team together.”

USA Hockey took the most members of the Avalanche thus far, hoping Stastny and Johnson can rekindle the success their squad had at the 2010 Games when they brought home the silver medal. Stastny seems a natural lock for the team considering he was the second highest scoring player at the recent World Championship tournament. The center tallied seven goals and eight apples in just ten matches.

Johnson also stands a good chance to make the squad but, with young names like Seth Jones in the mix, he’ll certainly have to work hard and show well during the regular NHL season.

Landeskog has represented Sweden in the last two World Championship tournaments and is one of only 18 forwards invited to orientation camp. Looking to bounce back after a rough sophomore year in NHL, the Colorado Avalanche captain will undoubtedly be on the Swedish roster barring any injury setback.

The Czech Republic has yet to announce their own camp invitations. It is possible that Jan Hejda ends up bolstering the back end for his home country as well.

Finalized rosters are due by December, 31st.

What do you think? Like the choices? Expect your boys to make the cut?

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Jessica Redfield changed my worldhttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/jessica-redfield-changed-my-world/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/jessica-redfield-changed-my-world/#comments Sat, 20 Jul 2013 23:31:49 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8527 One year ago today I was awakened from a codeine-cough syrup sort of non-existence by the rapping of my roommate’s knuckles on my bedroom door. I had been to a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises the night before and spent the wee hours of the morning watching with horror as the Aurora news [...]

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One year ago today I was awakened from a codeine-cough syrup sort of non-existence by the rapping of my roommate’s knuckles on my bedroom door. I had been to a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises the night before and spent the wee hours of the morning watching with horror as the Aurora news unfolded before succumbing to exhaustion.

Jessi's Rose

I cracked one eye open, slowly fading back in to reality and attempting to get my bearings. A nasty illness had all but grounded me for weeks and a steady stream of medicine was the only thing keeping me going. It also had a tendency to put me down for the count.

The knocking on the door came again, echoing through the quiet room. Urgent. Abrupt. All too telling. As my surroundings slowly focused around me I heard talking. Inaudible at first, I was able to make out that my friend Tracy was trying to get ahold of me.

That was the moment I knew my friend Jessica Redfield had been one of the many struck down in the theater that morning.
I turned my phone on, issuing a mumbled and incoherent thanks, and suddenly my world exploded. Calls, texts, pain flooded into my periphery as I fought off the fog of just four hours of sleep. The world was much more of a real place than at any moment before that.

I sent messages, made calls, and confirmed my macabre suspicion. She was gone.

The most glaring evidence that the world was a darker place was from the lack of response to the last text I her sent before turning out the lights mere hours before.

I asked Jessi to tell me that she wasn’t in Aurora.

I knew that she went to see the film that night and I knew that the theater was close to her apartment. I also knew that I would wake up to a reply in the morning, maybe even some witty joke. Of course she wasn’t still awake at 4 a.m. like I had been.

I got up. I walked the dog. I read the numerous reports that said she was dead. All the while refusing to believe that it could be true. No other name was listed. How could they possibly know that? Surely my phone would vibrate and everything would be good.

I didn’t know what else to do so I went to work and pretended like nothing had happened.

For hours, days even, I would open the conversation with Jessi on my phone just to see if she had finally responded. It was almost too convenient to be on medication at the time because I was just so numb to all of it. None of it seemed real. It hardly seems real now.

As time went on and the fallout ebbed and flowed like a giant tidal wave of sadness engulfing the state, one thing became clear: I needed to continue the pursuit of our common dream.

Hockey is what brought us together, Jessi and I. It is how we met. It is how we bonded. It is how we became friends. We both wanted to be professional journalists covering the greatest sport there is. Jessi was on the fast track. I was not.

She had internships, connections, high-profile pieces of writing being consumed by voracious fans, appearances around the world. I had one blog, then another, then, just before she died, another. She was in the press box and the locker room. I was in the stands.

But that didn’t stop her from saying hi at intermission during every game I went to. It didn’t stop us from talking about the sport every chance we got and it didn’t stop us from becoming comfortable with each other.

I decided that the only thing I could do was to continue working at what we both wanted. What I didn’t know was how much she would help me on my path. She lead me to the incredible Adrian Dater of the Denver Post. A man who took her under his wing and helped her learn the ropes. A man who, even after having been burned by opening his heart to the young firecracker of a redhead, took it upon himself to mentor me as well.

He had no obligation or duty to help me. In fact, he should have been turned off by my optimistic approach and “green” attitude towards the whole business. But he did anyway, and continues to do so. Something I’m eternally grateful for.

I wrote articles online, in magazines, and even did an interview on TV. I got a seat covering the Denver Cutthroats, a place she was trying to work, and cut my teeth working “the beat” in the minors.

I made my way into the press box at the Pepsi Center, though it didn’t hardly seem right without the chance to chat with Jessi. On opening night I bought a yellow rose for my friend from Texas and delivered it to her seat. I was surprised to find a beautiful tribute to her wonderful person, honoring her place in the rafters and snapped a picture that made it to many amazing people around the internet.

She made all of that happen. She worked her ass off to get there and showed me that I would have to do the same. I met other fabulous people because of her, collecting stories and friends along the way. I came to know Derek Kessinger, my buddy in the press box. We would talk the whole game. Peter Kiss, Mike Chambers, and even Mark Kiszla were faces I’d see around.

I was in on some big stories, namely Jean-Sebastien Giguere blasting his team for a lackluster effort.

He said that to me! Me, standing in the Colorado Avalanche dressing room holding my phone out like a dummy after asking a question that was nowhere near on par with the response I got. I owe her for that.

Even after the season ended and things quieted down I was still thanking her for paving the way for me, an outsider. I got credentials to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and forked out a small fortune for the chance to prove that I could do it. I went to New York City for the first time and New Jersey for the first time. I met guys like Joshua Cooper – a man Jessi had me follow online – and attempted to see familiar faces like Mark Lazerus. Professionals that fans will be seeing a lot of this season.

Yet none of this would have been possible without seeing Jessi’s passion. Her unending drive, reckless desire to succeed, and love of life was something that she impressed on everyone she knew. It was almost infectious to a point.

Jessi made me want to continue dreaming like she did. She reinvigorated a life that was stale and crumbling on the edges. She made the ticking hours and seconds of the world into an adventure again and she let me ride on her lingering coat tails when I was ready to throw in the towel.

For all of this I am stuck with not being able to tell her thank you. As friends become comfortable with each other, it’s easy to forget to tell them what they mean to you. You don’t always tell them you love them, or cherish them, or enjoy spending time with them. Although they shouldn’t be, these things are forgotten.

My last few conversations with Jessi could hardly be called that. Largely they were failed attempts at getting together, presumably to help her move. Or meaningless comments about this or that. Looking back, the idea was that there would always be tomorrow. That isn’t the case.

She isn’t around anymore and it’s too late for that. I am lucky to still be surrounded by her though. I have a Tiffany’s blue wall behind my bed that she painted when she moved into the apartment that I occupy now. I have her dresser to hold my clothes and her mirror to look back at me in the morning. I have physical objects to remind me of her, like the pack of Camel cigarettes that haven’t moved since the last time she touched them. Things that remind the world she was once a part of it.

But more than that I have memories. I have moments in time trapped in my head for endless playback whenever I want. I also have her family and extended family to lean on, reach out to, laugh with, and love. I have a whole world that has forever changed both by her existence and her sudden departure.

The last blog that Jessi wrote resonates deeply for obvious reasons. Life is fragile. Time is fleeting. We have an expiration date on relationships, friendships, being on the Earth. Don’t take it for granted. Celebrate life. Enjoy living.

“I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.”

Help me celebrate the legacy that Jessica Redfield left behind. Donate to her scholarship fund and help others share our dream. Thoughts and prayers are great, but making the world a better place is even better.

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Hard work pays off for Avalanche center Matt Duchenehttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/hard-work-pays-off-for-avalanche-center-matt-duchene/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/hard-work-pays-off-for-avalanche-center-matt-duchene/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2013 15:00:39 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8515 At the end of the 2011-12 hockey season, Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene was an enigma. He managed only 28 points in 58 games, suffered multiple injuries, and was largely out-shined by teammate and fellow 2009 draft pick Ryan O’Reilly. As fans clamored for O’Reilly to inherit the Avalanche [...]

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At the end of the 2011-12 hockey season, Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene was an enigma. He managed only 28 points in 58 games, suffered multiple injuries, and was largely out-shined by teammate and fellow 2009 draft pick Ryan O’Reilly. As fans clamored for O’Reilly to inherit the Avalanche captaincy, Duchene was left wondering how he ended up so far away from the 67 points he saw the year before.

He signed a two-year “bridge” deal that summer, using a low salary number as motivation to prove to himself and the club that he could do better in just two years.

Matt Duchene signs his five-year extension

Matt Duchene signs his five-year extension

He did it in one.

The Avalanche rewarded Duchene’s follow up effort yesterday with an uncharacteristic contract extension worth $30 million dollars over the next five years. Locked up through the 2018-19 season, Duchene now has the time to show his fans that he deserves every penny. His 17 goals and 26 assists in 47 games last year speaks for itself. Scoring at a .915 points per game clip on a losing team in a shortened campaign was no easy feat.

But neither was the work it took from Duchene to get there.

“I always worked hard. I always put all I could into it and put the commitment in, especially in the summer. But it was time to really do some research on what makes me tick and figure that out,” said Duchene in February.

The 22-year-old Haliburton, Ontario native paired up with strength and fitness coach Andy O’Brien from the Edge School for Athletes during the offseason, working to develop a regimen that would benefit him back on the ice. Having worked with a guy like Sidney Crosby, someone who is able to exert his will on opposing teams, O’Brien’s training was just what Duchene needed.

“Andy O’Brien’s our strength coach and he’s, I think, the best in the business at identifying what needs to be done to be the best on-ice product possible. I think my training was good before but it wasn’t exactly what I needed I don’t think,” said Duchene of his improvements. “I think I’m more functionally strong. I think everything works together better. I’m in better position. That’s the biggest thing. My positioning of my body, my angles of my hips, my shins, my ankles, everything is in better position so, in turn, you’re stronger.”

“I could not lift a weight all summer but, if I get in better position, I could be stronger just from that… It’s just getting in those hockey positions and those angles that you need to get to to be extremely strong.”

Strength is one thing. It certainly helps when battling in the corners or surprising a hard hitter like Shea Weber when sneaking in to steal the puck. But that didn’t get Duchene through the games alone. He needed to investigate and change the way his body was processing energy. This ultimately manifested itself in the shape of a strict, gluten-free diet.

“Finding out, in terms of eating, what affects me, what helps me, and everything else has been a big thing for me. I’ve maintained it and it’s worked so far. The biggest thing is sticking with it and not getting away from it at all,” said Duchene. “I’m paranoid. I’m stepping on the scale four, five times a day, making sure where I’m at, knowing what I’ve got to get in my body. If I’m a little light, maybe I can cheat a little bit, and then, if I’m a little heavy, it’s making sure I’m drinking water, drinking good stuff, getting things moving. It’s been the biggest thing for me so far. I’m totally obsessed with how I feel.”

While pasta and sauce, and maybe even some chicken, is the standard pre-game meal for many around the league, it doesn’t work for Duchene. He prefers a sumptuous helping of brown rice and salmon before every contest. If he’s on the road, he might dabble with some pasta because it’s too hard to resist but, at home, there is meticulous adherence to his newfound dietary regimen.

“Gluten is bad for everybody but especially for me, I don’t process it well and it’s something that was holding me back. I changed what I eat even on game days now and I just feel better. I feel lighter, definitely leaner. It’s one of those things. I always ate well but I didn’t know how bad gluten and wheat was. You’re taught that it’s good for you and it’s not, especially for me. I just don’t process it well. So ever since I’ve cut that out, pretty much 100%, I’ve felt better. I’m able to wake up earlier, able to last longer, be stronger longer. It’s been good.”

“I’ve always been a guy that’s used my strength out there but now I can couple it with stamina. I can be stronger for longer.”

As the summer came to an end and the NHL showed no signs of letting the players on the ice anytime soon, Duchene decided to put his talents to use playing in Europe. He played 19 contests with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League, tucking in four goals and ten assists, before moving over to Switzerland for a four-match stint that ended with five points. The new changes were certainly working for the center but it wasn’t always a basket of flowers being a stranger in a strange land.

“I made the commitment to go over and play overseas. Yeah, it’s fun. You get to play hockey but it’s tough,” said Duchene. “You’ve got to go to a new country. You’re dealing with the language. You’ve got to live somewhere that you’re not used to living… It’s tough. It’s very tough. The thing is, I made the commitment to go over there and I wanted it to obviously show up over here.”

The result was certainly there when the lockout ended in January and the Avs took the ice for the first time. Without the presence of O’Reilly, Duchene was called upon to do more on both ends of the ice. Suddenly he was taking more draws, both offensively and defensively. He was expected to chip in and bail out a blue line patrol that frequently found its head beneath the water. While perhaps new to Avalanche fans, a well-rounded game was old hat for the forward.

“I think growing up, that was what I was used to and in junior and stuff – kind of the two-way guy and, when I came here, I got away from it a little bit. When you’re young, you’re just trying to put up numbers to stay in the lineup and do things like that and I forgot about a bit of the game,” said Duchene. “I also wasn’t getting the responsibilities as well so it was even easier to forget. It’s something I really wanted to improve on. It’s something I’ve always been working on for sure but now, with the responsibilities, you’re given no choice and I love it. I love it. I love every minute of it.”

Duchene also grew as a leader in the dressing room. He put his foot down when the team wasn’t playing up to his standards and he often took the load on his own shoulders when he could.

The newfound workload, coupled with an unfamiliar line mate in PA Parenteau, didn’t seem to burden the reinvented Duchene. Once a self-admitted slow starter, he jumped to life and didn’t look back. He played 47 games in the shortened 2013 campaign and managed to put home 43 points, finishing in a first place tie with Parenteau for points and one goal behind the newcomer for second on the club in individual scoring.

He topped off the comeback year with a solid showing for Team Canada at the IIHF World Championship as well.

It’s that kind of dedication to his favorite hockey club that earned him a renewal before his “bridge” deal was up.

“Matt already is and will be a big part of our team’s nucleus for the long term,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic in a release. “We all felt that it was important for us to secure his rights for several seasons. With his great skills, speed and character, he represents the identity we want the Avalanche to be.”

Duchene earned every penny of his payday and will be in the midst of his prime when the contract expires, marking a good play by the new Colorado Avalanche front office. If Sakic waited any longer to ink Duchene, he might have ended up paying much more for him as the young superstar shows no signs of coming back to Earth.

“In 2009, I was thrilled to have been selected by the Avalanche, my favorite team,” Duchene said in a release. “I have worn this uniform with pride in my first four professional seasons in Denver, and I appreciate the organization believing in me for the long-term future.

“I have been working really hard again this summer, and I am looking forward to the upcoming training camp and season.”

What do you think? Like the extension? Impressed by the work ethic?

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Colorado Eagles roster starting to take shapehttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/eagles/colorado-eagles-roster-starting-to-take-shape/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/eagles/colorado-eagles-roster-starting-to-take-shape/#comments Thu, 18 Jul 2013 14:00:51 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8504 The Colorado Eagles roster is starting to come together. The club has revealed six signings over the last couple of weeks, filling in the bench for the their 11th season in Colorado.The team announced yesterday that defenseman Arthur Bidwill would be returning for his second professional season. [...]

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The Colorado Eagles roster is starting to come together. The club has revealed six signings over the last couple of weeks, filling in the bench for the their 11th season in Colorado.

Adam Brown | Courtesy of Hector Acevedo

Adam Brown | Courtesy of Hector Acevedo

The team announced yesterday that defenseman Arthur Bidwill would be returning for his second professional season. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound former Colorado College Tigers rear guard had five goals for 25 points through 69 regular season games last year and added three assists in the playoffs to boot.

“Arthur Bidwill was arguably our most improved player of last season,” said Head Coach and General Manager Chris Stewart in a press release. “He was steady, reliable, and I felt that he was always up to the task, no matter the situation on the ice. This should be a big year in his development.”

“It was a great year last year. I had an incredible opportunity to play for a terrific staff, a great group of guys and in front of unbelievable fans,” said Bidwill in the release. “It really made it a very easy decision to return.”

Bidwill joins a solid foundation of returning players in Kyle Ostrow, Dylan Hood, Greg Gardner, and Adam Brown.

Ostrow, the former University of Denver Pioneer, finished the 2012-13 campaign with 27 points in 46 games despite suffering a two months-long injury midseason. He was third on the club in postseason scoring and is rearing to go on a full, healthy year.

“Bringing back a player like Kyle adds such an incredible dimension to, not only what we are trying to accomplish on the ice, but also what we strive to engrain in the dressing room,” said Stewart in a release. “His leadership has been phenomenal and having served as a captain at DU, we knew that we were getting a special player who could bring that aspect to the Colorado Eagles. Had he not suffered a long-term injury last season, I believe he would have certainly been among the league leaders in scoring and his production in the playoffs is indicative of that.”

Ostrow’s scoring prowess up front will be matched with the speed of Hood’s wheels. Named the ECHL’s fastest skater during the 2013 ECHL All-Star Skills Competition, Hood’s second season looks to build off of the 25 point foundation he laid in 48 games last year.

“We were thoroughly impressed with what we saw from Dylan last season,” said Stewart in a release.  “His speed and skill with the puck were obviously assets that jumped out at us immediately. However, his ability to put the puck in the net in crucial situations really developed over the course of the season and we are very much looking forward to seeing him continue to grow next year.”

With all of last season’s rookies moving up in rank, the Eagle’s have decided to retain Gardner after a fantastic five game showing at the end of the schedule last year. Gardner put home four goals and one apple during that time and added three more helpers in six playoff matches. His first full year as a professional skater is sure to have a goal-horn soundtrack.

“We couldn’t be happier to be returning a player like Greg Gardner. He was highly-touted coming out of the collegiate and major junior ranks and he lived up to that billing in the brief time that he spent with us last season,” said Stewart in a release. “I believe that he has the potential to be one of the best rookies in the league this upcoming season.”

“Last year I came down for the last month of the season and in that time I realized what a great organization Colorado has. The fan base and the area are amazing,” said Gardner in the release. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to come back and be a part of this team.”

Brown returns to Loveland to backstop the competitive squad in his second full year as a pro goaltender. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound cousin of Colorado Avalanche stud Matt Duchene finished his rookie campaign with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage through 41 games. He fought for his ice time and came out with a 22-15-1 record to show for it.

“Obviously, I’m very excited to be coming back to Colorado,” Brown, whose father Newell is an assistant with the Phoenix Coyotes, said in a release. “Playing last season in front of the best fans in pro hockey and now returning, I couldn’t be happier.”

Not every player now under contract is a familiar face. The Eagles have also added some new blood to their 2013-14 group, bringing in physical forward Parker Stanfield. Stanfield spent his last two seasons with the Bakersfield Condors, putting away 19 goals and 24 assists during that span.

“Having matched-up against him, Parker is a player that will add not only skill up-front for us, but he will also bring a physical aspect that is so vital for any team,” said Stewart in a release.

For Stanfield, it was Colorado or bust.

“I’m so excited to be in Colorado,” Stanfield said in a release. “When I went to Europe at the end of last season I told the guys on my team that if I was going to play in the ECHL next season, the only way I would do it is if I played for Colorado. Playing at the Budweiser Events Center has always been amazing. The fans are incredible and I can’t wait to get started.”

What do you think of the roster thus far? Like the makeup? Miss some of the regulars?

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In-game fan experience at Pepsi Center changing with new HD video boardhttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/pepsi-center-adding-hd-scoreboard/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/pepsi-center-adding-hd-scoreboard/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 14:00:24 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8475 Colorado Avalanche fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief: the Pepsi Center will have HD over the ice this coming season.The Avs announced a complete audio/visual system overhaul yesterday, ending months of speculation and fan concern about being behind the times. According to the club, the [...]

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Colorado Avalanche fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief: the Pepsi Center will have HD over the ice this coming season.

Pepsi Center Jumbotron

Mockup of the upgrade

The Avs announced a complete audio/visual system overhaul yesterday, ending months of speculation and fan concern about being behind the times. According to the club, the whole experience at the Can is about to change forever with the addition of a new “Jumbotron” that is “the largest of it’s kind in the world.”

“We are excited to bring a new standard of excellence to our fans’ experience when attending events at Pepsi Center,” said Josh Kroenke, President of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets, in a release. “The new scoreboard, sound system and the technological improvements that come with each installation will provide fans with one of the best audiovisual presentations in all of sports.”

The Can will have a fresh look with new High Definition screens reaching from blue line to blue line in humungous splendor. Built by Daktronics, the new system will offer center ice video over 800% larger than what fans saw last season. The end screens alone have increased over 300% in size.


“The scoreboard will contain four large screens—two will face the center seating areas, measuring approximately 27’ high by 48’ long, and two will face each end of the seating bowl, measuring approximately 21’ high by 25’ wide,” said the Avs in a release. “The new display boards will contain over 8.5 million pixels in total. Fans seated along the center areas will face a 1080p full HD screen that spans both blue lines for hockey and stretches from 3-point line to 3-point line for basketball.”

Boasting a completely refreshed sound array as well, the additions are so robust that the Pepsi Center will require an entirely new control room just to handle the various presentations being put forth.

“It is going to be a game changer,” said Steve Johnston, Director of Game Entertainment for the Colorado Avalanche, in an email. “Just the size of the screens alone are going to be very impactful, but new camera angles, upgraded cameras and equipment, and the newest technology is going to enable us to present Avalanche games to the fans like they have never seen.”

For Johnston, who’s in charge of keeping the fans engaged, the tool bag just got a lot deeper. With the new screens in place, he will be able to do things many local hockey fans haven’t seen at a game before, like showing a video replay while also keeping the live action up on the display.

“I think just being able to present the game in HD to our fans is going a huge difference, but we are going to be able to do things with the new board that no other teams are really able to do right now. For example, how many times at an Avs game have you seen [Semyon Varlamov] make a huge save, or [Ryan Wilson] lay a crushing hit, but then 3-4 minutes of time elapses before the next whistle when we’re able to show a replay of that save or hit,” asked Johnston. “Now, because of the immense size of the screen, we’ll be able to immediately show the replay of that huge hit or great save, while also staying on the live action… it will kind of be a split screen look, but cleaner. That’s just one example, but that kind of thing completely changes the presentation.”

With the new hulking mass hovering over center ice, those in attendance might have a hard time looking away from the glowing brilliance of the unique video system. Everything will look newer, crisper, fresher, even if it’s recycled material – which it likely won’t be.

“I had the chance to visit Houston for a Rockets game last season, and I can tell you I had hard time taking my eyes off their new board,” said Johnston. “I think it will drastically change the experience of going to an Avs game and the reaction by the fans will be very positive.”

The new audio/visual equipment is just part of a building wide upgrade to bring Pepsi Center into the modern era of entertainment. Management has already installed 300 new HD TV sets around the arena, added four LED boards in each top-corner of the facility to enhance the experience, and upgraded lower and club level seating. And they’re still not done.

Every backlit sign in the building is being replaced with an LED equivalent, which will factor in to the overall adventure of attending events in the building.

“It is our goal to provide the best fan experience in all of sports and entertainment, and the new improvements to Pepsi Center will undoubtedly place it among the most state-of-the-art venues in the United States,” said Kroenke Sports & Entertainment CEO Jim Martin in the release.

What do you think of the improvements?

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Second annual Denver Cutthroats open tryouts start August 23rdhttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/cutthroats/second-annual-denver-cutthroats-open-tryouts-start-august-23rd/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/cutthroats/second-annual-denver-cutthroats-open-tryouts-start-august-23rd/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 14:00:36 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8479 Have you always dreamed of playing professional hockey? Well now you might get your chance.You just have to prove that you’re good enough. The Denver Cutthroats are hosting open tryouts from Friday, August 23rd through Sunday, August 25th at the Edge Ice Arena in Littleton, CO and any player age [...]

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Have you always dreamed of playing professional hockey? Well now you might get your chance.

Jay MeloffYou just have to prove that you’re good enough.

The Denver Cutthroats are hosting open tryouts from Friday, August 23rd through Sunday, August 25th at the Edge Ice Arena in Littleton, CO and any player age 18 or older is welcome to sign up.

A tradition that started last season, Cutthroats tryouts offers an opportunity for local skaters to make the roster of Denver’s newest hockey club.

“We are excited for our second annual free agent camp,” said assistant coach Brad Smyth in a release. “It is a great opportunity for players to skate and compete against each other at a high level of intensity.”

Registration is $150 this time around and includes an official tryout jersey as well as direction from members of the Fish coaching staff. The Cutthroats are looking for hidden gems in the amateur hockey scene and will invite the most promising talent to attend training camp in the Fall.

Four teams consisting of 72 hopefuls took the ice last year, skating hard in a grueling, round-robin tournament full of hard hits, crisp passing, and plenty of emotion. By Sunday, the best remaining players faced off in an All-Star Game showcasing the best play of the weekend.


Five guys got the invite to training camp and one played the entire season in the blue and green jerseys of the Cutthroats.

“I spent all summer getting ready for open tryouts,” Fish defenseman and Boulder, CO native Phil Tesoriero said in a release. “There were 75 guys and it was a good feeling to be one of the few who made it. It showed hard work pays off.”

Tesoriero played in 62 games during the Cutthroats’ inaugural season, putting away four goals for eight points and accruing 36 penalty minutes while defending the blue line at the Denver Coliseum. He’s proof that tryouts can work out if the work is put in.

“I’m always looking for hockey players,” said Cutthroats Head Coach Derek Armstrong during the event last August. “We definitely want a couple players from the local area. If you get a chance to make someone’s dream come true, that would be great.”

Interested parties, once registered, should come prepared to play with full gear and a helmet with a Central Hockey League mandated half-visor. Cages will not be allowed.

The event will start on Friday, August 23rd from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and continue on Saturday, August 24th from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tryouts wrap up on Sunday, August 25th with on ice sessions running from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For some insight as to what was being considered last time, check out what Armstrong had to say during the event. Also be sure to read up on last season’s coverage, which includes interviews with attendees.

The whole weekend is open to the public.

What do you think? Are you going to tryout? Do you know someone interested? Let us know.

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Cutthroats sign Chabot, add Glasserhttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/cutthroats/cutthroats-sign-chabot-add-glasser/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/cutthroats/cutthroats-sign-chabot-add-glasser/#comments Thu, 11 Jul 2013 22:44:31 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8472 The Denver Cutthroats announced yesterday that two more players have been added to the roster for the coming 2013-14 season.Following in the vein of the first player signings, the club has again brought in a familiar face and another newcomer. Looking to spur an offense that struggled outside of [...]

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The Denver Cutthroats announced yesterday that two more players have been added to the roster for the coming 2013-14 season.

Following in the vein of the first player signings, the club has again brought in a familiar face and another newcomer. Looking to spur an offense that struggled outside of the first line, the Fish have inked center Jean Philipp Chabot and winger Matt Glasser.

Chabot played 62 games with Denver last season but failed to make the same splash that he did the year before with the Arizona Sundogs. Utilized on a second/third line basis, Chabot finished the year with just ten goals and 12 assists – half his point total from the previous year. He did manage to continue his reputation as a team-oriented kind of guy however, spending 145 minutes in the penalty box for various infractions.

“His team-first attitude and ability to contribute on the powerplay will be counted on to help us have a successful season,” said Assistant Coach Brad Smyth on the club’s website.

While new to the Fish, Glasser is no stranger to the hockey scene in Denver. The former Edmonton Oilers draft pick played four years with the beloved University of Denver Pioneers before moving on to the Colorado Eagles for the 2010-11 campaign. Glasser spent last season skating for the Geleen Smoke Eaters in the Netherlands. While abroad he tallied 16 goals and 28 assists in just 30 games, dominating the opposition.

“The Cutthroats are excited to have Matt Glasser on the roster for the coming season. Matt brings very good speed to the lineup,” Smyth said online. “He also has ties to the Denver area and will be a strong presence in the community.”

Denver also officially announced the return of lethal center Troy Schwab.

“The organization is pleased to have come to terms with Troy Schwab. Troy is one of the top centers in the league who brings a strong two-way game to the team,” said Smyth. “His passion and leadership will continue to make him a fan favorite.”

What do you think? Like the signings thus far?

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Avalanche sign MacKinnon to entry-level dealhttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/avalanche-sign-mackinnon-to-entry-level-deal/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/avalanche-sign-mackinnon-to-entry-level-deal/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 23:30:10 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8466 The Colorado Avalanche announced today that Nathan MacKinnon, the club’s primary draft pick, has been signed to a three-year, entry-level contract.“We are happy to have Nathan under contract and anxious to see him at training camp,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe [...]

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The Colorado Avalanche announced today that Nathan MacKinnon, the club’s primary draft pick, has been signed to a three-year, entry-level contract.

“We are happy to have Nathan under contract and anxious to see him at training camp,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic in a release. “His presence will bring additional speed and talent to our team, as well as a lot of excitement to our fans.”

Selected first overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the 17-year-old MacKinnon is expected to step right into the league this season, boosting what Colorado hopes to be a potent offensive threat.

“The signing of this first NHL contract represents for me another step towards becoming a professional hockey player,” MacKinnon said. “I am excited and thrilled to have been drafted by the Avalanche, and I am already working very hard in order to be ready physically and mentally for training camp.”

MacKinnon’s salary, according to CapGeek.com, is estimated to be $3,775,000 – after bonuses – each year for the next three years. It is also – most likely - a slide-risk contract, meaning that MacKinnon’s contract will extend an additional year should he fail to play in ten full games in the NHL this coming campaign.

MacKinnon had a strong showing in what appears to be his last season of junior hockey, putting home 32 goals and 43 assists in just 45 regular season games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He continued his tear in the postseason, adding 11 goals for 33 points in 17 contests to help his Halifax Mooseheads take the Memorial Cup during just his second season with the team.

Avalanche Head Coach Patrick Roy has publicly stated his desire to see MacKinnon start the season as the third line center but he won’t know until training camp this fall whether the boy is ready.

The signing came during a few days of Colorado Avalanche development camp which serves as an introduction and team building exercise for the newest members of the club.

MacKinnon’s entry-level contract is the second signed by a prospect this season. Budding forward and late pick Colin Smith signed one last week.

What do you think of the news?

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Avalanche sign Smith to entry-level deal, add five othershttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/avalanche-sign-smith-five-others/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/avalanche-sign-smith-five-others/#comments Sat, 06 Jul 2013 00:11:50 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8455 The Colorado Avalanche continued gathering minor puzzle pieces throughout July 5th, scooping up players here and there to fill up some voids left with the Lake Erie Monsters and locking down a promising young talent for the next handful of years.The Avs signed defensemen Nate Guenin and Nick [...]

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The Colorado Avalanche continued gathering minor puzzle pieces throughout July 5th, scooping up players here and there to fill up some voids left with the Lake Erie Monsters and locking down a promising young talent for the next handful of years.

The Avs signed defensemen Nate Guenin and Nick Holden, and forwards Guillaume Desbiens, J.T. Wyman, and Colin Smith. They also re-signed David Van Der Gulik.

Selected 192nd overall (7th round) by the Colorado Avalanche at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Smith’s play with the Kamloops Blazers earned him a three-year, entry-level contract with the Avs. The 20-year-old center put home 41 goals and 65 assists in the WHL last season, finishing plus-33 to cap it all off. He lead the team in goals and tied for first in assists as well as power-play goals. Smith also finished tied for fourth in points in the WHL.

Smith’s production has increased by 20-30 points over the last three seasons and he hasn’t missed a game during that time. The young scorer has one year of eligibility left in the WHL but is expected at Colorado Avalanche training camp in the fall. His showing could determine whether he moves up to the Lake Erie Monsters or stays with the Blazers for one last year. The 7th round pick is starting to look like a diamond in the rough.

Van Der Gulik is a familiar face around the organization. He has played 40 games with the Avalanche and 148 with the Monsters during the last three seasons. The 30-year-old right wing has excelled with Lake Erie, coming two points shy – thanks to a prolonged call up – of three straight 30-point years. He is a quality relief player that can chip in now and then but will spend the majority of his time in the AHL.

Guenin comes to Denver by way of the Norfolk Admirals, affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, the 30-year-old rear guard is a big, solid presence on the blue line. His most recent NHL experience was back during the 2011-12 season with the Ducks. He managed two goals in 15 games. The majority of Guenin’s expertise comes from his time in the AHL. Guenin finished last season with four goals and 20 assists after 66 games for the Admirals.

Holden, another predominantly AHL-based defenseman, spent the majority of his time last year with the Springfield Falcons. He tallied nine goals for 39 points in 73 games and finished plus-24 on the ice. He also played two matches with the Columbus Blue Jackets. At 26-years-old, Holden has an upside as a 6-foot-4, 207-pound guy. He could see time with Colorado if their ranks start falling victim to injury.

Desbiens brings some grit back to the Monsters, who have gone without since Patrick Bordeleau left for the Show and won’t be coming back anytime soon. The 28-year-old played 52 games for the Chicago Wolves last season. His eight points aren’t as impressive as his team-high 118 penalty minutes. A decent number to be sure, the stats come nowhere near his personal best, 233, set in 2002-03 with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound pugilist has big shoes to fill but shouldn’t have a  problem stepping in.

Wyman spent last season holding his own with the Syracuse Crunch. He scored 13 goals for 38 points in 76 regular season games and added three goals and four helpers in 18 postseason tilts. He also played one game for the Tampa Bay Lightning, upping his NHL total to 44 contests in all. The 27-year-old right wing has two career goals and nine assists in the Show.

Guenin, Holden, Desbiens, Wyman, and Van Der Gulik were all signed for one year.

What do you think? Like the decisions? Happy about Smith’s progress?

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Colorado Avalanche add defensive depth with Benoithttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/colorado-avalanche-add-defensive-depth-with-benoit/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/colorado-avalanche-add-defensive-depth-with-benoit/#comments Sat, 06 Jul 2013 00:08:30 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8452 While many teams around the NHL were going all in on the first day of free agency, signing big names and making trades to fill gaping holes in the roster, the Colorado Avalanche were quietly rounding out their organizational needs.The biggest move of the day for the club from Denver was to bring [...]

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While many teams around the NHL were going all in on the first day of free agency, signing big names and making trades to fill gaping holes in the roster, the Colorado Avalanche were quietly rounding out their organizational needs.

The biggest move of the day for the club from Denver was to bring in another new face to the blue line, Andre Benoit. The 29-year-old rear guard played in 33 contests for the Ottawa Senators last season, putting up three goals and seven assists during the regular season and adding another three apples in five postseason matches. He had 25 points in 34 games with the Binghamton Senators in the AHL before the shortened NHL season got going.

“Andre brings added depth to our blue line,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic in a press release.  “He has good offensive skills and puck-moving ability and will be a good addition to our power play.”

Benoit was also nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy las year by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association in Ottawa. Benoit was called out specifically for his hard work and undying desire to play in the NHL, as well as his efforts away from the ice helping those in his home town of St. Albert, Ontario.

“By showing the way to the great number of rookies who were in Binghamton, he became an obvious candidate to be recalled for the shortened Senators’ training camp. The injuries to veterans Jared Cowen and Mike Lundin allowed him to get a break and start the season in Ottawa,” said his nomination profile. “ Everywhere he went, Benoit has won. It all started with the J. Ross Robertson Cup and the Memorial Cup as a member of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers in 2003. He also won a Calder Cup with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2007.”

“Benoit also [found] some time to do some active community work this winter. When a fire burnt down the St. Albert Cheese Co-operative in January, he went back to his home town — which is located approximately 40 KM east of Ottawa — to offer his support to the hundreds of people whose livelihood had been impacted.”

The year before captaining the Binghamton Senators, Benoit spent a full season with Moscow Spartak in the KHL. While there he managed 17 points in 53 games.

Benoit is no stranger to life in the AHL and will enter the season with the Lake Erie Monsters unless a strong showing at training camp moves him into a rotational defensive position with the Avalanche.

Benoit’s contract is for one year.

Colorado signed six other players today.

What do you think? Like Benoit? Expect to see him with the Avs?

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Two DU Pioneers selected at 2013 NHL Entry Drafthttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/college/pioneers/two-du-pioneers-selected-at-2013-nhl-entry-draft/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/college/pioneers/two-du-pioneers-selected-at-2013-nhl-entry-draft/#comments Tue, 02 Jul 2013 14:00:22 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8442 The University of Denver Pioneers made a bit of a splash at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in Newark, New Jersey on Sunday night when two of the team’s players were selected by NHL clubs.Incoming freshman defenseman Will Butcher (4th round) and sophomore forward Quentin Shore (6th round) could be [...]

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The University of Denver Pioneers made a bit of a splash at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in Newark, New Jersey on Sunday night when two of the team’s players were selected by NHL clubs.

Incoming freshman defenseman Will Butcher (4th round) and sophomore forward Quentin Shore (6th round) could be destined for the NHL after their names were called out amidst the bustle of the draft process at the Prudential Center.


Passed over entirely at the event the year before, Shore got a chance at redemption when the Ottawa Senators took him 168th overall. Putting up 19 points in 39 games during his first year at DU, including seeing time in the NCAA tournament, no doubt helped his cause with teams in the Show. As did the legacy of his brothers Drew and Nick who were drafted by the Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings respectively. Shore has also been invited to camp for the World Junior Championship tournament.

Coming out of the USHL, Butcher might be more prepared for being a Pioneer than many would expect. The 18-year-old rear guard is familiar with new Pioneers Head Coach Jim Montgomery, having played a few contests for the Dubuque Fighting Saints – Montgomery’s former team – before moving on to the U.S. National Team Development Program.

“I think it’s going to be fun. Knowing how he [Montgomery] plays, with the systems, everything, I think it’s going to be easier for me to get acclimated with their process there and how he runs things and I think he’s a great coach,” said Butcher. “Really excited to go there and explore a new journey there with the new coach and everything coming in.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Selected 123 overall by the Colorado Avalanche, the 5-foot-11, 175 pound Butcher gets to be close enough for the club to keep an eye on him as he hones his game in the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

“I was just happy to get drafted,” said Butcher, who has some training goals in mind to help him crack the Pioneers lineup as an offensive, puck moving guy.

“Definitely get stronger. Stronger and quicker,” said Butcher. “That’s the two things I’m working on right now. Weights and everything.”

What do you think about the Pioneers? Proud of the NHL legacy of the club? Think it continues under a new coach?

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Cutthroats bring back top forwards Gale, Schwabhttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/cutthroats/cutthroats-bring-back-top-forwards-gale-schwab/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/cutthroats/cutthroats-bring-back-top-forwards-gale-schwab/#comments Tue, 02 Jul 2013 04:39:51 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8441 The Denver Cutthroats are primed for another high scoring year out on the frozen pond, having just come to terms with their primary point producers, A.J. Gale and Troy Schwab, for the coming campaign.The dynamic duo not only led the team in offense during Denver’s inaugural season in the Central [...]

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The Denver Cutthroats are primed for another high scoring year out on the frozen pond, having just come to terms with their primary point producers, A.J. Gale and Troy Schwab, for the coming campaign.

Troy Schwab

Courtesy of Hector Acevedo/Denver Cutthroats

The dynamic duo not only led the team in offense during Denver’s inaugural season in the Central Hockey League, but also ranked in the top amongst all scorers during the 2012-13 season.

Nominated for the Most Valuable Player award for his on-ice efforts last season, Gale managed to help the Cutthroats into their first ever playoff birth with 46 goals and 84 points in 64 games. The first goal scorer in team history, Gale finished first in the league in goals and third in points.


His knack for finding the back of the net seems to come with ease and he often seems a fin above the rest of the league when he’s working his magic in the offensive zone. Gale’s accurate shot and magnetic ability with the puck make him a welcome addition to the second-year squad.

Benefitting from playing with such a productive partner on the top line, Schwab finished the year out with 21 goals and 60 assists of his own. His contributions throughout the 66 contests he saw put him in sixth place for points when the regular season finished.

Despite being small, Schwab uses speed and stellar awareness to find the small areas of the ice to work his magic. When paired with Gale, and with the assistance of another strong winger, Schwab manages to roll the numbers on the scoreboard. His first line often delivers two much of a wallop for other guppies to compete with.

Gale and Schwab join Sean Zimmerman and T.J. Fox as the only players signed so far for the 2013-14 season. With a new look planned for the roster, the Cutthroats have a chance to shore up the defensive game, evening out their strengths to make them harder to beat from night to night.

Now that the 2013 NHL Draft has wrapped up, there could be a few players from the Colorado Avalanche system making their way to Denver to play for the smaller fish in town.

The signing of both Gale and Schwab will be officially announced in the coming days.

What do you think? Like hearing that the offense has come back for another year?

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Martin, Geertsen, Butcher, Storm, Westlund round out draft for Avalanchehttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/martin-geertsen-butcher-storm-westlund-round-out-draft-for-colorado-avalanche/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/martin-geertsen-butcher-storm-westlund-round-out-draft-for-colorado-avalanche/#comments Mon, 01 Jul 2013 04:00:03 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8417 NEWARK, N.J. — The Colorado Avalanche continued their strong draft selections well into the New Jersey evening, scooping up one forward, one goalkeeper, and five defensemen during the entirety of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. While rounds one (first overall) and two (32nd overall) went relatively [...]

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NEWARK, N.J. — The Colorado Avalanche continued their strong draft selections well into the New Jersey evening, scooping up one forward, one goalkeeper, and five defensemen during the entirety of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. While rounds one (first overall) and two (32nd overall) went relatively slowly, the later choices cruised by at lightning speed.

Spencer Martin

Adding to their already deep goaltending ranks, the Avalanche selected Mississiauga Steelheads netminder Spencer Martin with the 63rd pick.

“Wow, it’s all happened really fast in the last couple minutes. It’s an honor and a dream come true,” said Martin following the selection. “Today’s an awesome day to reflect and be very proud.”

The 18-year-old keeper went 17-21 in 46 games for the Steelheads last season, posting a 3.02 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.


“Spencer is a very athletic goalie with quick feet and an ability to make the highlight-reel, reaction-based save. He did well behind a very average blueline for Mississauga this season as a 17-year-old. I like the fit for Colorado because his style meshes well with what Francois Allaire can bring in terms of developing Spencer into a pro-level goalie,” said Justin Goldman, a goalie scout for McKeen’s Hockey. “Martin’s a confident goalie with good raw skills and lateral movements, but it does lead to juicy rebounds or over-pursuing pucks.”

“Learning how to manage pucks better and using his size to his advantage will be the next step in his development over the rest of his junior career. Good pick at a good spot to add to their goalie depth chart.”

The fifth ranked goaltender, according to International Scouting Services, knows that he has to work to get into the Show, and plans on putting the time in starting over the summer.

“I think I just need to keep my head down, work hard, and focus on becoming a better goalie every day.”

Martin credits much of his progress thus far to his family.

“I think it just started with my parents putting me in hockey and supporting me at the rink and the mental battles at home,” said Martin. “Everyday of my hockey career, they’ve been there. A lot of credit goes to them.”

It isn’t everyday a prospect is welcomed to the league by a former hockey great. For Martin, meeting the new Head Coach of the Avalanche was just as exciting.

“Just kind of star struck seeing Patrick Roy shake my hand,” said Martin. “It was a dream come true to be welcomed to the league by that kind of guy.”

 

Mason Geertsen

In the fourth round, with the 93rd pick, the Avalanche selected Vancouver Giants defenseman Mason Geertsen. Ranked the 41st rear guard in the draft by ISS, Geertsen’s value rose following his trade to Vancouver, allowing him a chance to shine.

“A big, physical defensive defender, Geertsen makes opponents think twice before cutting to the middle of the ice with pucks,” says his ISS profile. “He is a good skater, has strong crisp executions on the puck and knows his role well. He is never going to be the most offensive player on the ice but he does his job and is more than happy to get involved physically when the opportunities present themselves.”

As with some of the other later round picks, the excitement of the day was almost unbearable for the 6-foot-3, 199 pound Geersten.

“I couldn’t really sleep too much last night and when we had a little downtime, I couldn’t really think about anything but right now,” said Geertsen. “I’m really excited that finally my dream’s come true.”

He knows the value of hard work and also credits his family for his success.

“It took a tremendous amount of work. Not just from me, but my family, my Mom and Dad, they did so much for me,” said Geertsen. “They gave me every opportunity I had to be here.”

From here he knows that he needs to continue improving if he hopes to crack the roster, using his father – a former WHL player – as inspiration.

“I’m thankful they picked me and just try and prove myself to them,” said Geertsen. “I do lots of lifting and I do a little MMA stuff for fighting and stuff like that and lots of sprinting stuff for speed.”


Will Butcher


With the 123 pick (5th round) the Colorado Avalanche drafted National Team Development Program defenseman Will Butcher. Headed for freshman year with the University of Denver Pioneers, Butcher was enthused by Colorado’s interest in him.

“It’s a great experience. I was looking forward to coming to the draft all week,” said Butcher. “Kind of excited I got drafted by Colorado. Going to Denver next year to play college hockey there. I’m really pleased and excited to be part of this organization.”

“I was just happy to get drafted.”

With his first year of college ahead of him, Butcher isn’t quite looking ahead to the NHL just yet. First he needs to secure a place on a Pioneers lineup that is looking to step out of the shadow of former Head Coach George Gwozdecky’s legacy.

“Really excited to go there and explore a new journey there with the new coach and everything coming in,” said Butcher. “I think it’s going to be fun. Knowing how he [Jim Montgomery] plays, with the systems, everything, I think it’s going to be easier for me to get acclimated with their process there and how he runs things and I think he’s a great coach. I’m looking forward to it.”

Over the summer, Butcher plans on working to separate himself from the pack.

“Definitely get stronger. Stronger and quicker,” said Butcher, who’s looking forward to what Denver has to offer. “That’s the two things I’m working on right now. Weights and everything.”

Butcher considers himself an offensive defenseman and will likely thrive under new management at DU. A close proximity to the Avalanche will allow the organization – as well as the fans – easy access to keep an eye on his development.


Ben Storm

The Colorado Avalanche drafted rear guard Ben Storm 153rd overall (6th round), continuing their acquisition of blue liners.

The 6-foot-6, 213 pound 19-year-old played 52 games in the USHL for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, putting up 12 points and 82 penalty minutes in the process. Slated to play college hockey for St. Cloud State this season, Storm will be one to keep an eye on as he ages.



Wilhelm Westlund

The Colorado Avalanche closed up their busy day of drafting by selecting their 5th and final defenseman, Wilhelm Westlund, with their 183rd pick (7th round).

Westlund debuted this year with Farjestads BK Karlstad in the Swedish Elite League. He saw action in 26 regular season contests and added six more in the postseason. He finished the year out with one goal.

At 18-years-old, Westlund has the potential to grow into an NHL caliber guy. But at 6-foot, 178 pounds, he needs to add some size or some serious point scoring to turn heads.

What do you think? How do you feel about all of the choices? Do you think the Avalanche missed anybody?

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Avalanche draft Bigras to boost defensehttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/avalanche-draft-bigras-to-boost-defense/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/avalanche-draft-bigras-to-boost-defense/#comments Sun, 30 Jun 2013 23:07:49 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8411 With the 32nd overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Colorado Avalanche selected defenseman Chris Bigras from the Owen Sound Attack.Being selected second overall in the second round, Bigras can relax a little bit knowing he is on the right track. “You get that sense of relief, you know,” [...]

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With the 32nd overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Colorado Avalanche selected defenseman Chris Bigras from the Owen Sound Attack.

Being selected second overall in the second round, Bigras can relax a little bit knowing he is on the right track.

“You get that sense of relief, you know,” said a nervous Bigras after the announcement. “You’re always anxious waiting around for your name to be called. To hear it is just a great relief and excitement as well.”

Being drafted brings him once step closer to his dream of playing in the NHL.


“Since you’re a little kid you see the guys in the National Hockey League, you want to be just like them,” said Bigras. “To be able to get a step closer. A step in the direction is incredible.”

Bigras entered the drafted as the 11th ranked defenseman and 30th overall player by International Scouting Services. He has great mobility and the skill to make a quality first pass out of the zone on the offensive break. He’s primed for a shutdown role but, at 6-foot-189-pounds, his size is a knock against him.

“You can truly see where Bigras excels when in defensive situations and anchoring the PK,” says the rear guard’s scouting analysis. “Has a way to go in his offensive development, he displays intriguing tools and great vision from the point. Has the ability to carry the puck to gain center ice and jump into the offensive rush. Chris has great leadership qualities and willingness to engage physically in front of his net and along the wall although doesn’t possess a consistent mean streak.”

A Duncan Keith comparable, ISS has Bigras listed as worthy of a top-four pairing.

Playing for the defensively stifled Avalanche is no lock for the 18-year-old kid. From here he knows that he has to put in the work if he has any chance of making the team.

“Countless hours. It’s an all around thing. Every decision you make is involved in the process so it’s an ongoing thing,” said Bigras. “Certainly getting strong in the offseason. Moving up to the next level, the guys just constantly get bigger and bigger. So, just improving strength.”

“The pyramid keeps getting smaller as you go up and you’ve got to keep working to get to the top ’cause it’s easy to get pushed off by the wayside. So you’re just constant[ly]… striving towards getting better.”

The Avalanche selected Nathan MacKinnon with the first overall pick.

What do you think? Like the addition?

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Colorado Avalanche draft Nathan MacKinnon first overallhttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/colorado-avalanche-draft-nathan-mackinnon-first-overall/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/colorado-avalanche-draft-nathan-mackinnon-first-overall/#comments Sun, 30 Jun 2013 21:00:27 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8388 NEWARK – Despite heavy speculation on whether the Colorado Avalanche would stay at the top spot in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft or trade down while acquiring immediate help, the Avs opted to keep their pick, drafting Nathan MacKinnon first overall.Once a fan of Executive Vice President of Hockey Ops [...]

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NEWARK – Despite heavy speculation on whether the Colorado Avalanche would stay at the top spot in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft or trade down while acquiring immediate help, the Avs opted to keep their pick, drafting Nathan MacKinnon first overall.

Nathan MacKinnon poses with Peter McNab

Nathan MacKinnon poses with Peter McNab

Once a fan of Executive Vice President of Hockey Ops Joe Sakic and the Avalanche while growing up, MacKinnon is a natural fit on a club looking to get faster and more lethal up front. He brings superb skating – the strongest in his class – excellent playmaking, and a hunger for scoring to the Avalanche.

With his future up in the air, MacKinnon – like everyone else at the draft – had no idea if he would actually go to Colorado or not.

“I didn’t expect to be that nervous. I was shaking a little bit a couple minutes before we went on stage but I didn’t want to get up too quick either when they said Halifax Mooseheads,” said MacKinnon. “I really listened and made sure they said my name before I moved at all. Definitely a very proud moment of my life.”


MacKinnon put up 32 goals and 43 assists in 45 games this season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, adding 11 goals for 33 points in 17 playoff games to help the Mooseheads take the Memorial Cup in just his second season with the club.

Those days are likely behind the young forward, who is projected to jump right into the NHL. Excitement doesn’t quite do his feelings justice, as MacKinnon grew up an Avalanche fan before hometown superstar Sidney Crosby hit the league.

“When Sid got drafted by the Penguins, I hopped on that bandwagon but, for the first few years of my life, I grew up cheering for the Colorado Avalanche,” said MacKinnon. “It’s pretty weird that I’m being part of their organization now.”

“This is so cool. I blacked out a little bit there,” said MacKinnon. “This is unbelievable.”

According to International Scouting Services, as well as many scouts around the league, MacKinnon is ready to make a splash right away.

“After facing some adversity for the first time in his young career Nathan stayed focused, ran his own race and got up off the mat and came back swinging. MacKinnon has all the offensive tools to produce at the next level. He has the ability to be the best player on the ice when he wants to be and already shoots the puck like a Pro,” says the ISS profile of the 17-year-old stud. “He loves to attack on the rush and isn’t afraid to attack one on one, however he needs to start to use his linemates more effectively.”

“MacKinnon is a great skater with the ability to beat a defender by changing gears very well in mid stride. His balance and ability to protect the puck are outstanding.”

Dan Marr, head of Central Scouting Services, concurs with the high assessment of MacKinnon’s talent.

“He’s got a very strong competitive instinct but he rises to the occasion, as he showed everybody at the Memorial Cup,” said Marr on Saturday afternoon at a press event. “Just his skill set, his ability to score, and he’s got a quickness to pull away with his speed that I haven’t see in a number of years from guys. He can just pull away with the puck like that and he can pull away from a check.”

MacKinnon has very few knocks against him but one is his defensive game, something he will no doubt work on shoring up before the puck drops this October.

MacKinnon will travel with the team to Denver, Colorado tomorrow for an introduction to the local media.

Defenseman Seth Jones, projected to go first earlier in the year, fell to the Nashville Predators as the fourth overall pick.

What do you think? Like the choice? Bummed about Jones?

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Watch: Nathan MacKinnon meet the presshttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/watch-nathan-mackinnon-meet-the-press/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/watch-nathan-mackinnon-meet-the-press/#comments Sun, 30 Jun 2013 20:15:21 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8390 Moments after being selected first overall by the Colorado Avalanche at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Nathan MacKinnon went into the depths of the Prudential Center to meet the press.Watch his reaction to the news:What do you think?

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Moments after being selected first overall by the Colorado Avalanche at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Nathan MacKinnon went into the depths of the Prudential Center to meet the press.

Watch his reaction to the news:

What do you think?

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Jones, MacKinnon not phased by draft day uncertaintyhttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/jones-mackinnon-not-phased-by-draft-uncertainty/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/jones-mackinnon-not-phased-by-draft-uncertainty/#comments Sat, 29 Jun 2013 16:08:33 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8378 The rise and fall of the stock of a top ranked prospect comes with the territory of being the best at what you do. One injury, one dry stretch, a couple of off games and you’re no longer at the top. A handful of good nights, a few hat tricks, a comparison to Sidney Crosby and you’re jumping over [...]

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The rise and fall of the stock of a top ranked prospect comes with the territory of being the best at what you do. One injury, one dry stretch, a couple of off games and you’re no longer at the top. A handful of good nights, a few hat tricks, a comparison to Sidney Crosby and you’re jumping over the guy ahead of you.

So it has been for defenseman Seth Jones and forward Nathan MacKinnon, who have both been projected to go first overall to the Colorado Avalanche since the Avs won the top choice at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

By virtue of their terrible play, the Avalanche are in a position to improve the team both now and for the longterm. This creates quite the dilemma as the organization must choose between shoring up their abysmal defense with a guy like Jones, whose skill doesn’t come along everyday, and picking up pure goal scoring talent, the likes of which will benefit the club for years to come.


The uncertainty of the draft is definitely exciting. Especially when the top dog begins telling everyone that they are going to pick you, like the Avalanche have recently done with MacKinnon.

“It’s pretty cool to hear,” said MacKinnon. “It’s flattering to hear those two guys talk about me like that. I’d love to be part of their organization.”

The Avalanche aren’t an unfamiliar club to MacKinnon even though he hails from Nova Scotia.

“I definitely liked Colorado growing up, said MacKinnon. “I really liked Joe Sakic. He was my favorite player until Sid came into the NHL.”

Despite a fondness for the man now partially in charge of Colorado’s destiny, MacKinnon knows not to put too much stock into what the Avalanche or any or team says to the media.

“I believe them for sure but they could change their mind. They said ‘today,’ as of today they would,” said MacKinnon. “The draft isn’t today or yesterday. It’s pretty cool to hear though and, like I’ve said, a lot can change in the next few days.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that public opinion switched gears. Soon after winning the Draft Lottery, Jones seemed a lock for the Colorado Avalanche. The back story of Sakic telling Popeye Jones, Seth’s father and a Denver Nuggets player at the time, how to get the kid into the game spoke to the predestined inevitability of the situation. The press was all over it.

Colorado, however, was quiet about the whole situation, letting speculation ramp up while the old regime was cleared out for that of the new era. When the dust settled, Sakic spoke out about passing up Jones in favor of a forward. Whether the honest truth or a play to drive the value of the first pick up, the prospects can only guess.

Jones, when asked about his disappointment in hearing the news, said it didn’t bother him.

“No, not at all. I’m not going to blame them. Joe and [Patrick Roy] have a lot of experience in the NHL,” said Jones, his face betraying his words. “I think they know what they’re doing to help their team win.”

It’s better for the kids to focus on what they know anyway.

“You can think about it a little bit. Your mind can drift to stuff but that’s the thing. It’s out of my hands,” said MacKinnon. “It’s all up in the air right now. It’s all speculation. Whether I do go first or I go anywhere, I’m still going to be the same player coming out of the draft.”

MacKinnon would rather enjoy the experience than lose sleep over Colorado changing its mind again.

“That could happen but I’ll leave that to you guys to speculate that stuff and I’ll just worry about having a great time in New York and enjoying my few days here.”

As of now, the Colorado Avalanche are slated to pick first at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft on Sunday, June 30th at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

What do you think?

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Watch: Seth Jones pre-draft Q&Ahttp://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/watch-seth-jones-pre-draft-qa/ http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/avs/watch-seth-jones-pre-draft-qa/#comments Fri, 28 Jun 2013 21:45:26 +0000 r.boulding http://www.hockeyontherocks.com/?p=8367 The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is right around the corner and people are still getting to know Seth Jones.The NHL hosted a meet and greet/question and answer session with a handful of the top draft prospects today at the Sheraton in New Jersey. With a backdrop of the New York City skyline, guys like [...]

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The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is right around the corner and people are still getting to know Seth Jones.

The NHL hosted a meet and greet/question and answer session with a handful of the top draft prospects today at the Sheraton in New Jersey.

With a backdrop of the New York City skyline, guys like Jones faced the media mob along the river, opining on all topics including picking hockey over basketball, favorite romantic comedies, relationships with the other prospects, conversations with various NHL teams and even a little bit about the Colorado Avalanche there at the end.


Check it out:

What do you think?

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