Welcome to another edition of the Colorado Avalanche Mailbag, a bi-weekly feature that lets fans connect with their favorite players and ask them a question.
We received an overwhelming number 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 to the Q&A:1. This question is for Matt Duchene. You're a new player on the team and a rookie, so this is your first year to experience what it's like to play at Pepsi Center. And when it comes to the arena, there's always talk about how difficult it is to play in such high altitude. Being a new guy, how has it been to play in such high altitude like in Pepsi Center, or have you even noticed it?
Patrick from Armstrong, British ColumbiaNice question, Patrick. When I talked to Matt, he said he initially didn’t notice the difference when he came out for development camp and rookie/training camp this summer. But during the season, he says it’s been evident at times. Here’s what Matt had to say:
“Coming back from a road trip you definitely do. It feels like you’re missing a lung. I remember coming back against Carolina for the first five or 10 minutes it was really tough to get my wind. You just get tired a little more. I think you notice it a little more when you go somewhere else and then skate here within 24 or 48 hours.”2. Hi, this question is for Craig Anderson. Craig, you have been a dream come true for us here in Denver. You are amazing between those pipes! Keep up the good work! I was wondering if you could tell us the story on your mask. What does the golden skull on the yeti and on the back of your mask mean to you? Thank you!
Keoki from Westminster, ColoradoAs you’ll see from Craig’s response, he’s a big fan of Corvettes. On the side of his mask, the abominable snowman is clutching a corvette. The skull logo on the back is known as “Jake”, Corvette’s racing mascot.
“The helmet on the snowman and the skull on the back is the Corvette racing logo. I’m big into Corvettes. It’s kind of a tribute to them and my passion. The Corvette is an American sports car, so being an American kid, that’s my way of putting an American flag on it, I guess.”3. Hi! I'm an Avalanche fan from Ukraine. And my question is for Paul Stastny: Paul, your father and uncles played on one line for the Nordiques. Have you ever dreamed of playing on one line with your brother Yan? Who would be the third player in the new Stastny generation line?
Alex from Kiev, Ukraine.
“It’s something I’ve thought about. It’s always a dream of ours to play on the same team and maybe on the same line. We do it all the time in the summer and it’s always fun because we have good chemistry. Maybe some day down the road our paths will cross.”And as for the third linemate? The thought made Paul chuckle.
“Anyone, I think. In a couple of years maybe I’ll have a couple of cousins playing professional hockey, but we’ll be older by then so we probably won’t be as good anymore.”4. My question is for Milan Hejduk. As always, you're a cornerstone of this Colorado Avalanche franchise. My question is how does it affect you playing with younger players, since this year's team consists of many players under the age of 26, compared to playing with veterans.
Max from Ottawa, Ontario
“Obviously it’s a little different. It seems like we have more energy with the younger guys and more speed than we usually do. We’re getting results too. That’s impressive, with the young team we have here right now we’re winning so many hockey games. It’s fun to be around these young guys.”
5. Matt Duchene: Congratulations on making it to the NHL and joining the Avalanche. I know they were one of your favorite teams growing up. That’s got to be an unreal feeling seeing the name on the back of that jersey everyday. I'm 18 as well and have lived my whole life in Colorado, and I would like to know if you are enjoying Colorado so far, not as a professional hockey star but as an 18-year-old. Have you met any new friends or picked up any new hobbies?
Justin from ColoradoSince the Avalanche played 11 of its first 15 games on the road, maybe we should have saved this question for later in the season! But the team is home now for a stretch in which it plays four of five at home, and Matt is actually in the process of purchasing his first vehicle, so he’ll be seeing plenty of the city soon.
“Whenever I’ve been out, it’s been great. The people have been very friendly and it’s just a great city to be in. It kind of reminds me of home a little bit with that ‘outdoorsy’ feel. I haven’t had too much experience here yet, but when I get my truck I’ll be able to get out a little bit more.”6. What’s up Ryan (O’Reilly)? Everyone knows about Matt Duchene growing up rooting for the Avs, and that he had Roy and Sakic’s jerseys hung up in his house. My question for you is, growing up, what team were you a fan of and who was your favorite player?
Aarif from Detroit Michigan
“When I was really young Wayne Gretzky was always my favorite player. That was all I really watched, I didn’t really have a favorite team then. Growing up I rooted for players more than teams, but I guess the Oilers were the only team I really liked.”
7. To Peter Budaj: Last season I noticed you had Altair from the game "Assassin’s Creed" on the sides of your mask. Do you play a lot of games and do you play any of the NHL games like NHL 10? Thanks!
Dustin from Littleton, ColoradoAs many Avalanche fans know, Boods is a big fan of playing video games. In fact, last year he put together a list of his top-10 video games for ColoradoAvalanche.com. And he says he does, in fact, play NHL games. The better question might be if he plays as himself sometimes (which he admitted, with a chuckle, that he does in fact do on occasion). Here’s Peter’s answer:
“We have a few guys on the team who play NHL 10, so we play together or against each other at times. I play a lot of sports games, including NHL and soccer. I love sports games, but I’m not huge into NFL games. If I’m playing a shooter game, it’s definitely Call of Duty. I’m waiting for the new one to come out. I’m definitely playing less than I used to now that I’m getting a little older, but if I have some time to kill and there’s nothing good on TV I’ll play with the boys for a little bit.”8. My question is for Ryan O'Reilly: I'd like to know what it's like living with Darcy Tucker and what's the one piece of advice Darcy has given you that has most helped your game or helped you adjust to the NHL?
Debra from Evergreen, Colorado
“Living with him is awesome. He’s got a great family and a great setup there, and he’s a really nice guy. He’s easy to get along with and it’s a lot of fun living with him. One piece of advice he’s given me? He told me to take everything in stride. Just relax, take time off when you can and enjoy it. And make sure when you get to the rink, you’re working hard every day.”