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The Official Site of the Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche Mailbag: Nov. 4

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:

Ryan O'Reilly: I noticed that you no longer are wearing the visor on your helmet. Is there a reason you have taken it off?
Austin from Golden, Colorado

This was by far the most popular question of the week, with over 40 of you writing in to ask Ryan why he no longer wears his visor. He actually made the switch during Colorado’s long road trip in early October. Ryan last wore the visor on Oct. 12 in Detroit and was without it three nights later in New Jersey.

“No real major reason. My visor was just kind of getting annoying. It was getting water in it and making it tougher to see. Now that I have it off I can see a little bit better and it helps me play a little bit more on the edge. I also feel and look older, so I think that’s mentally good.”

As a follow-up question, how does Ryan weigh the comfort factor versus safety?

“If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen. Since I’ve taken it off I’ve had less sticks to my face than when it was on. Sometimes when I’d go into the boards the visor on my helmet would hit the boards and jam it down. There are things that are going to happen and I can’t really control it, whether I have a visor or not. I’m just going to play and hope for the best.”

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To Cody McLeod: Do you take boxing lessons?
Jason from Arvada, Colorado

“Yeah, I try to in the summer a couple times a week. I just do it to try to stay sharp. I go with (David) Koci and a couple other guys here. It’s a good workout and it’s good for hand-eye coordination. Sometimes after practice we’ll also work on grips and grappling to stay sharp, stay strong and be ready when the time comes.”

My question is for Chris Stewart, Chris if you could pick any one of your past game jerseys to have which one would you choose? For example, your first NHL goal, first fight, first NHL game, first hat trick, or one of your OHL or AHL jerseys? 
P.S.  Hopefully a Stanley Cup winning jersey will be in the answer in the near future!
Bob from Parker, Colorado

“I don’t know. I will say that the one thing I kept that is framed at my house is my draft jersey. It was a big moment in my life being drafted into the NHL in the first round. I got to do it in front of my whole family and go onstage to put the hat and the jersey on. That was definitely a big stepping stone in my career.”

I have a question for any player. Are NHL players really picky about their equipment? I’m a big Colorado Rockies fan too and you always hear baseball players talk about the bats they use, and how even a difference of a few ounces can be a big deal. Are hockey players that way with their sticks or anything else?
Sandy from Boulder, Colorado

Funny you should ask, because shortly after we received your question, we walked into the locker room and heard Daniel Winnik talking to one of the Avalanche’s equipment managers about his sticks. Winnik was saying that they were noticeably different, even though there was little (if any) discernable difference to the untrained eye. Let’s have Daniel handle this one:

“I’m really picky. If my stick is a millimeter or two shorter you feel the difference and I think everyone does. It’s amazing how you just feel little miniscule things. Some guys hate new equipment, some guys love it. Personally I hate new equipment. I can’t stand our practice gear. Some guys like their skates sharpened every day, but I never get mine sharpened unless I lose an edge. Everyone likes their stuff a certain way and like to keep it that way as long as they can. My game shin pads have essentially been in my family forever. My brother used them for three years before me and I’ve used them since my senior year in high school. I just put new padding in them to make them better.”

Dear Matt (Duchene): You were one of a handful of players to begin their NHL careers as an 18 year old last year, what advice do you have for those who are beginning their NHL careers at 18 this year?
Chris from London, Ontario

“That’s tough. Just try to take everything in at first. Don’t try to put too much pressure on yourself right away. I did that a little bit too much last year instead of relaxing and enjoying what I was doing. You still work hard, but if you put more pressure on yourself it just has the reverse effect of what you want it to.”

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My dearest Sir Stewart: Present upon the official Colorado Avalanche internet domain, there sits a picture of you enthusiastically celebrating one of your many recent offensive contributions to this historic Colorado franchise. Upon closer inspection I have noticed that, visible within this highly detailed photograph, there lies ink styling on the surface of your forearm and/or wrist. Would you be a kind chap and elucidate for us fanatics the significance of this decorative body modification? I do thank you kindly good Sir.
Romeo (no hometown provide)

Ummm….we’ll let Stewy handle this one….

“It’s my little niece Janessa’s initial with a tiara on top of it. Where I come from family is important and that’s how I show it. On my left arm I have the initial of her older brother, Jayden.  It’s just a tribute to my niece and nephew.”

To Paul Stastny: With Adam Foote out of the lineup the last few games, being assistant captain, have you felt that you have had to step up a little more than usual? Has this made an impact on your game at all?
Chris from Hamilton, Ontario

“I don’t change my game based on who is in or out of the lineup. With Footie, you feel a void because he’s such a good leader, both vocally and on the ice. At times it kind of gets a little quiet in the locker room before games. He’s always got a couple of good pointers of what to focus on before the coaches come in. So whether it’s me, Hedgie, Liles, Hannan or someone else stepping up, I think guys feel the need to say something just so we’re ready. When you’re on the ice I think you play the same way you always play and lead by example. You try not to change that.”

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