We're back with the final Colorado Avalanche Mailbag of the decade. You sent in dozens of questions 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:To Matt Duchene: What do you plan to do during the Olympic break?
Lindsey from Lincoln, Nebraska
“I’m going to head home and spend some time in my hometown. I think I’m going to practice with our high school team there and maybe go on a road game or two with them and possibly coach them on the bench.”This question is for Brett Clark. To most hockey fans, you're best known for being one of the league's best shot blockers. How hard is it to time a shot block and when did this trait become a big part of your game?
Patrick from Armstrong, B.C.
Brett finished second in the NHL last season with 238 blocked shots and leads the league this year with 121 blocks through Wednesday’s games.
“It’s very hard to time a shot. You just have to read a guy’s stick. With the players in the NHL, there are a lot of fake passes now. You just have to be ready. A lot of it is just paying the price and sacrificing. You know it’s going to hurt but you still get in front of it. I think I started this in the “new NHL.” With the new rules, they don’t allow you to tie guys up, so you have to get in front of them and keep guys away from the net.”Dear John-Michael Liles. What is your favorite memory from playing at Michigan State, and how often do you talk to your former Spartan teammates?
Jeni from East Lansing, MichiganJohn-Michael had to think about this one for a minute, as he definitely had many collegiate memories to choose from. He played at Michigan State from 1999-2003 and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award during his senior campaign. He also played in one of the most famous college games in recent years, when Michigan State hosted the University of Michigan in an outdoor game at Spartan Stadium during Liles’ junior season. The game, which Liles described as “crazy”, drew a world record for the largest crowd at a hockey game (74,544). But in the end, he decided to go with a team accomplishment.
“I had quite a few. I would say my sophomore year we had a really great year and went to the Frozen Four. That was probably one of my favorite memories. We had a great team and a bunch of good guys. I still talk to a lot of the guys from Michigan State every few days, like Ryan Miller, Brad Fast, Kris Koski and Troy Ferguson. I still keep in contact with the majority of the guys I played with.”This question is for Paul Stastny, Paul, I read somewhere that some of the Avs play a bit of video games in their spare time. Do you spend any time playing video games? With NHL 09 or the new NHL 10, how does it feel to see yourself in a video game? If you do play, do you play as yourself all the time or do you select a different team just for the fun of it?
Trevor from Montreal, Quebec
“I play my share, but more in the summertime. Having a roommate, having my sister living with me, having a girlfriend and cooking all the time doesn’t leave me with as much time. If you sit there and start playing video games all of a sudden four hours go by. It’s hard, because I’m more of a TV show guy. I’ll squeeze in some video game time, but not as much as some of these hardcore guys. I think when the summertime rolls around I’ll start playing with some of my buddies.
I do have NHL 10. I took a couple of years off from the NHL games when they got really hard. All of the controls got a lot harder and more realistic, so I switched. But no, I don’t play as myself.”My question is for Peter Budaj. What made you want to become a goaltender?
Nick from Colorado Springs, Colorado
“That’s a good question. I always wanted to be a goalie since I was about three years old. I saw a game on TV, I think it was Canada against Russia, and I told my dad I wanted to be a goalie and play in Canada. Thank God that I was fortunate enough to follow my dreams. I never wanted to be a player; I always wanted to be a goalie. Other than that, I can’t really explain why.”This is for Scott Hannan. You’ve played with some great players, but who is the most underrated player you’ve had as a teammate?
Chris from Santa Fe, New Mexico
Scott took some time to come up with this answer, calling it “a loaded question.” As you noted, Chris, he’s skated with some really good players in his career. In the end, he went with a former Avalanche player.
“I think I might have to say Andrew Brunette. He’s just a smart hockey player and does a lot of the right things. He always puts up points and is a great power play guy. I think he’s well-liked on his teams and that goes a long way.”To T.J. Galiardi: What was your favorite movie of 2009?
Alicia from Denver, Colorado
“Probably ‘The Hangover.’ It was hilarious and took place in Vegas. That was pretty cool because we were going there soon after it came out for a preseason game. This year, I’m more into TV series than movies. But when I was in college, we got to watch $1 movies, so sometimes I’d even go alone.”This question is for Ryan Wilson. The number on your jersey usually has some significance to a player. Did you pick your number and does #44 have any significant meaning to you? If not, which number would you have chosen and why?
Jennifer from Sarnia, OntarioAs Jennifer hinted, not every NHL player gets to pick their own jersey number. Many times, young players simply have numbers assigned to them when they first reach the NHL. As time goes by and they establish themselves within the league, players are often given the opportunity to switch their jersey numbers. Some do just that, but others stick with the number they were originally given. In some cases, the decision on jersey numbers is left up to the team’s coaches. Here’s what Ryan had to say:
“No, I didn’t pick my number. It was given to me. But growing up I always wanted to be a double number, like 44 or 55. I was lucky to get 44 when I was called up. If I had the option to pick, 44 would be in the top two or three choices. I liked my number in junior, 51, but I’m happy with 44.”