We’re back with another edition of the Colorado Avalanche Mailbag, a bi-weekly feature that allows fans to connect with their favorite players and ask them a question.
The questions poured in this week, so check below to see if yours made the cut.
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 provides his answer.
Now, let’s get started with the Q&A:This question is for Marek Svatos. Marek, take us back to the Flyers game in the 2nd period of your first career fight in the NHL. What was your first fight like and what led to you deciding to drop your gloves? Good to see a guy stand up for himself and mix it up.
Garrett from Casper, Wyoming
Not surprisingly, this was a very popular question this week. Talking to Marek, he said this was the first fight of his life (at any level). When players see a teammate drop his gloves, it always tends to get the bench fired up. But when a player who doesn’t have a reputation as a fighter does so, it really gets the guys going. Here’s what Marek had to say about Garrett’s question:
“It was my first one, so it’s hard to describe the feeling. There were a lot of emotions in the game and hard hits on both sides. That just led to it. The guy asked, so I just went for it. It’s always good to see the players step up for each other, so I just did it.”Dear Ryan O’Reilly: I remember reading a while back that you hadn’t received the puck from your first goal (this was probably two weeks after you scored). Did you ever get it?
Kimberly from Colorado Springs, Colorado
“Yes, I did finally get it. I’m just waiting for my parents to get here so I can send it to my grandma. I just got it a couple of weeks ago. It showed up in my stall in a nice plaque, and it says who assisted on the goal. I knew it would come eventually. Everyone takes that stuff pretty seriously, so I figured it would show up.”This question is for T.J. Galiardi. T.J., when I saw your injury in Calgary I thought you were going to be out of the lineup for a really long time. I was pleasantly surprised when you came back only three weeks later. My questions are, how bad did you think it was at the time and to what do you attribute your quick recovery time?
Christopher from Madison, Wisconsin
“When it first happened it definitely didn’t feel good. It felt pretty much identical to when I broke my other ankle, except it didn’t pop. That was a good sign. I tried to go out there, but it just wasn’t right. They say the usual recovery time for that kind of injury is four-to-six weeks. I guess I’m lucky. I healed fast. We have really good trainers and they got me back into it fast. Conditioning-wise, the coaches really helped out. That’s not always the most fun thing to do, but it got me back and got me ready. Hopefully I can help to contribute now.”Dear Chris Stewart. I read in your bio that you didn’t play hockey one year and played football instead. Is that right? What caused you to make that decision and did you ever think about trying to pursue a career in football instead of hockey?
Greg from Sault Ste. Marie, OntarioThat’s exactly right, Greg. Chris sat out the 2003-04 hockey season, opting instead to play football for West Hill High School in Scarborough, Ontario. He was a pretty good football player too. As a tight end, Chris recorded 10 touchdowns and helped his team to the league championship game.
“I was 14 years old. I was a big kid and football seemed like the more popular choice in high school. I took the year off from hockey and tried to focus on football. I was a pretty decent player and thought about trying to go on scholarship. But hockey is where my heart is. Football is a shorter season and hockey is year-round. I came back the next year, and then after that I went to Kingston of the OHL. That’s where it all began.”
I’d like to ask a question to Matt Duchene. Matt, I’d like to know how you spend your time away from the rink. I know that you’re learning to play the guitar. How is that going? Is there anything else you like to do when you have free time?
Kendall from Aurora, Colorado
“The guitar is going well. I’m getting better as I go along. I’ll probably take lessons when I get back home after the season. Right now I’m just teaching myself. I have a book that tells you how to play the new Green Day CD. It shows you all the chords and tabs and everything. I’m learning that way. Other than that, just hanging out with Footer and his two boys is a lot of fun. We do a lot of stuff together. It’s a good atmosphere.”
My question is for Brett Clark. Until a few years ago you bounced back and forth between the minor leagues and the NHL. I actually remember watching you with the Solar Bears! In your mind, what was the most important thing that led to you securing a full-time position in the NHL? Did you just need to gain more experience as a player or did you change your style of play?
Kent from Orlando, FloridaBrett played parts of two seasons with the Orlando Solar Bears in the International Hockey League. The Solar Bears shared Amway Arena (which was known as the TD Waterhouse Center back then) with the NBA’s Orlando Magic. In Orlando, Brett played with current Minnesota Wild head coach Todd Richards, Washington Capitals’ defenseman Brian Pothier and Vancouver Canucks’ winger Darcy Hordichuk, among others.
“Thanks for the question Kent. I never changed my style of play. It was more about perseverance. I stuck with the game plan and waited for my opportunity. When I got that opportunity I never looked back. I just took it and ran with it, and it’s been going good ever since.”