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The Official Site of the Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche Mailbag: Nov. 18

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
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.

Let’s get to the Q&A:

Question to Matt Duchene:
Hello Matt. My name is Raffael and I'm from Heimberg (Bern) in Switzerland. I would call me "the biggest Duchene Fan from Europe" so I'm really following your career and games. Last year you wrote some things on your stick which pointed to the book “Training Camp.”  I've read “Training Camp” and it's a very good book! Now I've seen that you have had "Hank it" and some other things on your stick. What exactly did you write on your stick and what does it mean?
Kind regards,

Raffael is referring to the book “Training Camp: What The Best Do Better Than Everyone Else” by Jon Gordon. Matt talked in detail about the book and certain lessons he learned from it in a podcast last season (click here to listen to that podcast, where Matt talks about it at the 4:25 mark). At times, Matt has inscribed reminders on his stick that came from the book, including “BG” (Be Great) and “H&H” (Humble & Hungry). As for his latest stick inscription…

“That’s a country song I really like from Justin Moore. It means to go for it, have confidence and don’t hold back no matter what. I’m a big country music fan so it kind of goes with my personality and it reminds me that when things aren’t going the way I want to, I just have to go out there and just ‘hank it,’ just have fun.”

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My question is for David Jones.
I went to the game in Detroit on November 13th and it was a great atmosphere.  How do you use the energy in an opposing rink to get yourself and the team motivated? And where is your favorite place to play in the NHL besides Pepsi Center?  Go AVS!
Adam from Michigan

“You really just have to feed off it. Especially playing in a great rink like that with a lot of history, it’s never tough to get up for a game. It’s always fun to go on the road and take two points. Unfortunately we didn’t get the job done that night, but you definitely feed off the energy from arenas. Other than Pepsi Center, I would say Vancouver is my favorite place just because I’m from there. I think one of the loudest places I’ve played was in Minnesota a few years ago in the playoffs when we played there. You couldn’t even hear yourself think out there it was so loud.”

Ryan O'Reilly-
When playing juniors before the NHL draft you were #9 and then after being drafted to the Avalanche #9 was being worn by Matt Duchene. Is there any significance to the #37 you chose or was it just a number you randomly picked.
Garrett from Casper, Wyoming

“No, there’s no real significance. It’s just what they gave me. I’d love to change it eventually. But that won’t be for a little while, probably not until I earn my stripes, I guess. I definitely want something with a 9 in it. I like 90, but I think I’d probably have to score a few more goals or get a few more points to be able to get a chance to wear that number.”

Budaj before....and after making the switch
My question is for Peter Budaj.  I noticed that you removed the throat guard you had worn throughout your career midway through last season.  Why the change and do you feel any less protected without it?
-Joey from Westminster, Colorado

Good catch, Joey. Peter did make the switch toward the end of last season. Peter said that he had never put much thought into it until he talked to Craig Anderson, who suggested he try to practice without the neck guard. Budaj tried it out during practice and felt comfortable going without it.

“Obviously it can be very important to have it because it’s your neck area and it can be dangerous. But sometimes I found it would get in my way when I was turning my head. A couple of days ago I got a shot in the neck, so I’m definitely using some extra padding underneath for my collarbone and my neck. If a shot is taken from up close I’ll try to put my chin down to cover my neck. It’s a little risky, but I find it better or easier to turn around and find the puck quicker. I don’t think I feel less protected, but I would definitely recommend that young kids wear it. I always wore it when I was a kid. But you get older and you make decisions on your own, so I just decided to do it. I tried it in practice and it felt good, so I stuck with it.”

Hello, Mr. Duchene. You knew you were getting this question, but let’s hear some more about your first NHL fight. I know you probably won’t share what was said leading up to it, but did you receive a big rush of adrenaline when the gloves came off? Were you happy when it was over?
Marci from Newton, Massachusetts

“We were just kind of jostling and he asked me if I wanted to go, and I said, ‘Yeah, sure, let’s go.’ I wasn’t sure if he was 100 percent serious at first but he dropped one of his gloves so I knew he was serious. It was pretty fun actually. I used to fight a lot as a kid at school, which probably wasn’t a good thing. I think everyone gets a rush out of it, and it just kind of happened. I was thankful when it was over, because his jersey came off and I had nothing to hold onto. I was afraid he was going to get a good shot and I wouldn’t really be able to defend myself. I ended up blocking some punches with my forearm. I was fortunate he didn’t land any big ones. As soon as his jersey came off and I couldn’t get a grip on him I just tried to get him down as fast as I could.”

For anyone who would like to answer:
I notice that a lot of players will chew their mouth guard while they play instead of wearing it across their teeth (the most recent example is Kevin Shattenkirk’s photo for this week’s mailbag).  Why do you do that?
Tyler from Rexburg, Idaho

Since you pointed out that Kevin likes to chew on his mouth guard, we decided to go straight to the source.

“I guess it was just kind of a habit I started when I was growing up. It was easy when I was wearing a cage, because if it fell out it would just stay there. But now I’m trying to get away from it because my mouth guard always falls out. I think I’ve lost it maybe five or six times this year. The refs have to pick it up and get it back to me. Sometimes I have it in fully, but I think even if you’re chewing on it and you get hit it’s better to have something in between your teeth than nothing.”

This is for Ryan O’Byrne. A big hello to OB from a Canadiens/Avalanche fan! I was sad to see you leave, but I’m glad you’re getting a chance to play in Colorado. I guess I have two questions for you. The first is how easy or difficult has your transition been to playing with the Avs? The second thing I’m wondering is if there is a certain player, past or present, that you try to pattern your game after?
Pierre from Longueuil, Quebec

“Well so far it’s been a smooth transition. First and foremost, the entire organization - from the General Manager to the coaches to the team - has brought me in and treated me like I’ve been here for a while. That’s made the transition a lot easier. On the ice the coaches have shown a lot of confidence in me and played me a lot. Things weren’t really going my way in Montreal and it was time for a change. I’m really happy to be here.

“I’m a big, physical defenseman, so you watch a guy on our team like Adam Foote or a guy like Chris Pronger. Those guys like to keep the game simple, play physical and block shots. I think if I make that good first pass, play physical and play hard in front of the net I’ll be successful. I don’t try to do too much fancy stuff out there. I keep it simple and that’s my game.”
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