We’re back with the latest version of the Colorado Avalanche Mailbag, where players respond to fan questions.
As always, your questions are in bold. If we feel the need to provide some additional commentary or clarification, that will come in italics before the player gives his answer.
Now, on to the Q&A:
Hey Kevin [Shattenkirk]! First off, let me start off by saying the Lake Erie fans miss you and we are all so proud of you. My question for you is, how did your (few) experiences with the Monsters influence you to be a young star with the Avs?
Kristen from Strongsville, Ohio
“A big thing for me was that we had that big road trip early in the season and just seeing how the pro hockey level works as far as that goes, which was a completely different experience for me. Just because, coming from college, it was maybe an hour or two on a bus ride, at most. We had a pretty grueling trip. Figuring out how to take care of your body and get your sleep as much as possible was tough for me. I think it was definitely a learning experience.”With Matt now having his own curve on RBK sticks, how does the process work? Did he customize it himself or did they call the curve he was using the Duchene curve?
Michael from Fort Collins, Colorado
“Neither. They just make something up and put my name on it. Most stick companies have generic curves. They have four or five curves. I haven’t even seen it yet, actually. I’ve actually heard it’s a little bit similar to what I use. It’s got a bit of a toe hook on the end of it, from what I’ve been told, but I’m not sure. It will be pretty nice to go into a sports store and see a stick with my name on it like that.”Hey, this question is for Greg Mauldin. You're definitely one of the faster players on the ice, and it's paid off with a couple shorthanders this season already. Has speed been something that's always been natural for you, or do you work on becoming faster, and what kind of drills help you out most?
Matthew from Baltimore, MarylandMauldin sure has shown his speed, especially on the penalty kill. His two short-handed goals currently lead the team, and he’s shown enough defensive skill to earn an average of 1:28 of ice time on the Avalanche’s PK unit. For Mauldin, it’s a mix of natural ability and hard work.
“It’s always kind of come pretty natural to me, I guess. My dad ran track in high school, my sister and I used to run summer track from when we were six years old all the way up until probably high school. We were always working on our speed, whether we wanted to or not. Going fast is just something that is fun to do. I wanted to go fast wherever I went. It works out really well on the penalty kill, but sometimes I get over aggressive and I’ve got to slow down and be a little bit more patient. It’s always something that I’ve been pretty blessed with and it’s something that I try to work at over the summer too.
“Every drill, try to work on explosive starts a lot. Try to work on gaining speed out of the cross-overs when you’re turning. I think it’s something that I try to focus on each time, especially when I was in the American League, I’d try to focus on it a lot. Here it’s a little different because you have a game, practice, game and you don’t want to wear yourself out. When you have two or three practices in a row with no games, you can really just focus on explosive starts and speed a lot.”My question is for Tomas Fleishmann,
Loving your play and passing in the few games I've seen you play for the Avs so far. Just wanted to ask you what your initial thoughts were on your new surroundings after the trade and how you like the new team? Also, I noticed that Washington plays a very run-and-gun up-tempo game just as the Avalanche are doing, do you notice any similarities in Colorado's game to Washington's?
Travis from Laramie, Wyoming
“I feel like I’m fitting in pretty good. I enjoy it; it’s a great group of guys here in the locker room. The speed and the aggressiveness are the same, I would say, as in Washington. Other than that, it’s just a hockey game. You just go out and play.”
My question is for David Jones. Since you grew up in Canada, what was your reasoning for going through the NCAA hockey system instead of the Major Juniors in your home country?
Betty from Colorado Springs, Colorado
It’s almost hard to imagine now, because the 6-foot-2, 210-pound forward strikes an imposing figure, but while growing up Jones was almost always one of the smaller players on the ice. Perhaps that’s why he learned at an early age to rely on his speed, which he has somehow managed to keep after a big growth spurt. How small was Jones back in the day? During his first year of Bantam hockey, he says he was 5-foot-5 and 130 pounds. To try and keep a long story short, Jones’ size was the reason he went the NCAA route.
“I went to one junior camp when I was 15 but they told me I was too small and I would never play Major Juniors. I went with a buddy who had been drafted by the Kootenay Ice, they cut me the first day and said, ‘You’re too small. You’re not going to be able to play.’ I went back and from grades nine through 11, I think I grew four inches.
“I didn’t grow until late and committed to the NCAA because I had a few more years to develop. By the time I was 19, I had reached 6-2. They actually called me after I committed and asked me to go play for the new Everett team [Everett Silvertips] when they expanded. Unfortunately I was already committed to Dartmouth, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I had a great time in college and had a lot of fun there, so it all worked out for the best.”
30 games into the season this year, you have 29 points and you have seemed to find your groove in the NHL more so than last year. As a player being a sophomore in the NHL do you feel less pressure in your second year than you did in your rookie season for reasons such as no Calder Trophy to "chase" and not having to make a name for yourself by living up to the hype of the 3rd overall pick? Or do you feel more pressure being a big-name player for the Avs that you have to be the guy night-in and night-out, making the big play after having a great rookie season?
Thanks for your time Matt,
Garrett from Casper, Wyoming
“I’d say it’s the same every year. You want to build on the year before and you want to have a good showing and prove that it wasn’t a fluke. Last year things went well, but things could have even gone better last year. You want to build on it each season and I feel that so far things have gone well.”