Defenseman Ian Cole is in his first season with the Colorado Avalanche after signing a three-year contract with the club on July 1 as a free agent. He spent last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins, joining Columbus at the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 26.
Cole was picked by the St. Louis Blues in the first round (18th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He has played in 405 career games over the course of eight seasons with St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Columbus. He won two Stanley Cup championships with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017, the latter of which came after he posted career highs during the regular season in points (26), assists (21), plus/minus (+26), shots (89), average ice time (19:49) and games played (81), while matching a personal high in goals (five).
An Ann Arbor, Michigan, native, Cole represented the United States at the 2005 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and 2007 IIHF U18 World Championship, winning silver medals at each event. He also played for Team USA at the 2008 and 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships.
Prior to his time in the NHL, the 6-foot-1, 219-pound rear guard played two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program and three years at the University of Notre Dame.
Cole sat down with ColoradoAvalanche.com at training camp to talk about joining the team and the upcoming season.
How has it been with the Avalanche so far?
"It's been great. Love it. The guys are awesome, so it's great to get here and get going."
What were some of the factors in your decision to join Colorado?
"I think as an unrestricted free agent you want to try to find a team and a situation that's going give you the best balance of great opportunity to win, great city to live in, great team chemistry. You try and find a mix of all those things and you try and make a decision as best you can about where you want to be for the next, in my case, three years based on those things. So, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to be considering the Avalanche, and I think being here in Denver certainly checked those boxes."
What was the perception of the Avs around the league last season?
"I think from the outside looking it, it was a young, skilled, fast team that could score a ton of goals. I don't think my perception of that has changed since I've been here. Practices have been great and certainly guys are showing off their skills, which is exciting to see."
What are some things you're looking forward to doing off the ice in Denver and Colorado?
"Right now, I'm very focused on the ice trying to prepare and get ready for training camp--trying to put my best foot forward as far as that goes. That being said, I'm excited to go to Red Rocks for a concert or on a couple hikes but can't do too much as far as extreme sports--no skiing or anything--but maybe down the road. But as of right now, all my focus is on hockey and trying to have a great camp."
What are some of your goals for the season?
"Well, I think we need to continue to win hockey games. You know, we made the playoffs last year as a wild-card team--82nd game had to win that. Everyone obviously liked that, definitely had a success in that sense, but I think we want to strive to do even better than that. I think that as an NHL hockey player, and as a competitive professional athlete, you want to win the Stanley Cup every year. That should be your goal. It shouldn't just be to just make the playoffs or just have a good year or just put up X amount of points, it should be to win a Stanley Cup every year."
What are some things you focus on mentally going into a season?
"You know, you need to aim for the top of that mountain and if you do that, you'll certainly put your best foot forward in terms of trying to accomplish that. Yes, I know it's a process and yes, I know it's a long season--there will be a lot of ups and downs--but everything we do should be predicated upon progressing to win a Stanley Cup."
What is your pregame routine?
"I don't really have a ton of superstitions or routines or anything. I like to get here around the same time--pretty early to warm up and stuff like that. Not to get too into detail about anything, but I really don't do anything too crazy or too outlandish."
How would you describe your playing style?
"I think as a player, you try and go out on the ice and put a product out there that you can be successful at and help the team win games. For me, it's not necessarily scoring goals. I'm not going to try and be Tyson Barrie out there. But I can sure help the team by being tough to play against and preventing goals and trying to get pucks back and get it to our fast, skilled forwards as quickly as possible."
As a veteran, do you have any advice for the younger guys?
"I'm not dishing too much advice right now, that's not where we're at in the season. But right now I think everyone's just trying to have a good camp and come in in great shape and do a great job here. I'm sure there will be time for advice later."