Avalanche Head Coach Joel Quenneville discussed the upcoming season Thursday morning at the Pepsi Center.
On the roster changes from last year:
"We'll make some changes. I think that's the game and the league today, we expect at the end of the year there's going to be some change-overs. We will have some new blood. I think last year we had significant changes and we had some question marks going into the season. This year I think it's a little bit clearer. We lost some people that had been here for some big years. Rob (Blake) and (Alex Tanguay) and Dan (Hinote) have been part of the team. We feel we have some new guys coming into the organization who have some things to prove. When you look at it overall, I think there's going to be more competition in all areas and we're really excited with the situation. What we just saw in rookie camp with the competition for positioning within the organization is going to be transpiring here for positions on the team."
On a new season for goalie Jose Theodore:
"Well, it's a fresh start. He's almost like one of the new players on our team this year. We feel that the type of goaltender that he is and the style, the way he plays, the way he had energy when he came into camp, the way he prepared himself coming in this year, he looks like a different person. His attitude is refreshed and re-energized, and we're expecting great things from him. Last year, Peter (Budaj) was unproven at this time also, so there was a little bit of uncertainty. We liked the depth we had last year and we think we are more solid as far as proven NHL goaltending. Jose and Peter will be a great one-two punch. Tyler Weiman also had a really good rookie camp the three days they were on the ice."
On whether the defense will miss Rob Blake:
"Well, I think Jordan (Leopold) plays a similar game as far as dependability. He's reliable. Maybe not as punishing - I think Rob had a unique ability with that body check to neutralize speed and create hesitation on the attack. I think overall Ossi Vaananen gives us some size and some toughness back there. Also, where the game is, the defense joining and being part of the offensive is something we're looking for. There's a comparable mix there that we want to have and each defenseman brings a little different element."
On the importance of a strong season from Milan Hejduk:
"We need Milan to fulfill the expectations that we had going into last year. Knowing he's such a consistent scorer, consistent player, very predictable, he didn't produce at the rate he would like. He had some stretches where he was the Milan we all knew and we expect him to be that guy. He should be absorbing some more leadership on the team and some more responsibility. We need him to be that top guy that he's shown in the past. Even though that line last year produced and demanded the attention of the defenseman on the other team, they still found a way in the stretch to get us through. That was our go-to line with Joe (Sakic) and Bruno (Andrew Brunette) and whether they are all going to be together again, well, it's possible it could start like that."
On whether Brett Clark and John-Michael Liles can be expected to anchor the power play:
"Jordan (Leopold) and (Patrice) Brisebois could get more power play time and between the four of them it could be competitive to see how much they're going to play and who's going to be in the first part of it. Clarky had an amazing year and seemed to grow and take on more responsibility with the role he played last year and I think all four of those guys could get minutes. We might not have the big shot but we know we have patience with the puck and play-making and the offensive side is high-end. We would consider putting Joe back there and we've talked about things like that and that is an option. Right now I like the four defenseman to be playing it out."
On the new, shorter training camp:
"The CBA last year was changed to shorten camp and we took a whole different approach. I think it's a great idea, knowing the fitness level these guys come into camp with is probably the best shape of their lives and their careers. We got upwards of 40 guys skating before rookie camp which you don't usually see. The guys have been putting in some quality work. We look back on the years with the Toronto Maple Leafs coming into camp for two-a-days, putting on wet underwear in the afternoons and you had a workout off the ice in between. That was the regular routine and you had probably at least a week of that before you even played exhibition games. We have three days before Burgundy and White and then our first exhibition game. So it's totally different. I think back then it was almost like you went to training camp to get into shape. Now it's required.
I think we all were in pretty good shape back then, but it's a different level of training. The emphasis that we place as an organization is such that the guys know today that it's a real business and they maximize the way they handle how they train. A lot of them have outside personal trainers so the summers aren't wasted. These guys are not only excited but I spent the last three or four weeks watching them go up and down the ice with guys like Joe (Sakic) and Kono (Steve Konowalchuk)."
On the impact that players who were injured last season will have in 2006-07:
"Svats (Marek Svatos) was a really big part of our team, he scored some really big goals and having that asset back is almost like the addition of another player. Kono's (Steve Konowalchuk's) absence was really noticed. He's a quality guy, his leadership is for real. We got him for the playoffs but he didn't get back to that level that he reached prior to the injury. Ossi (Vaananen) was coming on. He played a great game the last game of the year against Anaheim. His quickness was there and I think he's one guy that can go that next step and get more ice time and really get involved."