Joe Colborne is in his first season with the Colorado Avalanche after signing with the club as a free agent on July 1.
The Calgary, Alberta, native had spent the previous three seasons with his hometown club, the Calgary Flames, and he is coming off a campaign where he had a career-best 19 goals and 44 points. His return to Colorado is also a homecoming of sorts as he played two years of college hockey at the University of Denver from 2008-2010.
He talked with ColoradoAvalanche.com after the first day of training camp.
How did you get into hockey?
"It's kind of weird. My grandpa was a professional pitcher and my dad was a baseball/football player. Ever since I was 2-3 years old, all I ever wanted to do was watch hockey, play hockey. I just have to thank my parents for kind of taking the reins off of me and letting me play. It's been my passion to play."
How long have you been playing/skating? Did you start at 2-3 years old?
"Oh yeah, probably. My parents had me skating when I could barely walk. They were pushing me around with the little cart. I was playing organized hockey by the time I was 5 and just started at a young age. "
What was it like getting the chance to play college hockey at DU?
"They were the best two years of my life. It's such a cool experience because when you get to the pros, it's kind of cutthroat, like you have to produce or you're gone. In college, you want to produce but it's much more of a family atmosphere. You spend every minute with the guys, and your team and you form such close bonds; it's lifelong friendships that you have. And since I've been back here, it's been great to connect with everyone and just be back in the old stomping grounds."
Have you done anything fun since you've been back in Denver?
"I've been to both Broncos games and a few Rockies games. I was a Peyton Manning fan and Broncos fan since I've grown up. When he signed here, it was a perfect situation. When I was at school here, we were going through the Kyle Orton era and Tim Tebow era, so we had to go through those a little bit. It's amazing how the city gets behind their teams, whether it's us, the Broncos or the Rockies. It's just a great sport city."
What has it been like getting to play with Patrick Wiericioch in college and now here with the Avalanche?
"Yeah, it's funny how things work out like that. We had two great years at college, and you just expect to see him once or twice a year when you play against him for the rest of your careers and not to be a teammate again."
What do you like to do in the offseason?
"Pretty laid back; I love just being at the lake. Just getting out on the boat or the water and golf when I can. It was nice this was the first year in three or four summers that I've been healthy, so I was actually able to get out and golf and workout and get my body ready for the season without having to deal with an injury or a cast."
Did you have any favorite players growing up?
"I did. Al MacInnis was my favorite growing up when I was real young. Once Jarome Iginla came to the Flames, he kind of took over. So it's been really cool playing with Jarome, and it's a lot better having him on your team than playing against him. I've had a few good battles with him, the few weeks that I've been here. It just proves that everything that we got to see in Calgary for all those years. You can just tell he's a genuine person that has a smile on his face every day, treats everyone down to the ownership or the stick boy or the fans with the same integrity. It shows why he's the best player of all time."
How have you been fitting in with the team?
"It feels like I've been here for like a year already, it's a great group. We all went to the Broncos game together, a big group of us. It's a great group of guys here and have welcomed me with open arms, and it's been a fun three or four weeks here."
Do you have any goals or expectations for this upcoming season?
"I think for everyone; we all want to get back in the playoffs. I was lucky enough to get my first couple games in the playoffs with Toronto about five years ago and got a few rounds with the Flames. That's what you dream of, that's the best type of hockey. I know these guys had a taste a few years ago, and we are all hungry to get back. We've had too long of a summer, and we were glad to get this first day done and to start working toward our goal."
What are you excited for the most this season?
"I think opening night will be special, just skating out and knowing that the fans are there. And the optimism of a new year and a new opportunity. It's a fresh start for me, so I'm just excited. Today was big, nice to get on the ice and just kind of see what kind of concepts we are working on and the systems. It's starting to feel like we are getting in the swing of things. I don't think anyone's mad that we have a full year until we have to do that bike test again."