You sent in the questions, now Jordan Leopold supplies the answers in the season’s first installment of “Ask an Av”.
What was the hardest part about being hurt for most of last season? -Patrick from Laramie, Wyoming Jordan Leopold: The mental struggle. It was a long year. It was tough not being around the team when they traveled and practiced. That was by far the hardest part.
Jordan, the Avalanche defense is very versatile with many different pairings. How difficult is it to find your niche with a guy you’ve never played with before? Is there anyone on the roster that you really click with? -Patrick from Armstrong, British Columbia JL: I played a little with my current partner, Kurt Sauer, last year during my brief stint of 15 games. He’s pretty easy for me to play with because he’s a stay-at-home defenseman, so you know what you’re going to get. He does his job and lets me do my thing, so it’s worked out well so far.
Jordan: What teams (or players) are you most looking forward to playing against this season? -Carmela from Valenzuela City, Philippines JL: Thank you for your question, Carmela. It may sound cliché, but it will be fun to play Pittsburgh and have Sidney Crosby come to our town. It will be a tough challenge for us. He’s one of the premier players in the world right now and a force to be reckoned with. It’s always fun to play against those guys and I’m sure it will be a night to remember.
Mr. Leopold: What do you think are more important attributes for a hockey defenseman, size and physical strength, or speed and awareness? -T.J. from Littleton, Colorado JL: Definitely speed and awareness. I would actually throw vision in there. A good defenseman always finds himself looking up at the play. You have to be able to make reads, react, keep your head up and move the puck. I would say speed and vision, which goes together with awareness.
Would you like to play in a pair with an offensive defenseman or a defensive defenseman? -David from Bratislava, Slovakia JL: I would have to say a defensive defenseman. I like to get up in the play here and there, but whatever role comes your way you have to adjust to it and be able to compliment your partner. Right now my partner is Kurt Sauer, who is a stay-at-home defenseman, so it gives me the ability to jump up in the play and maybe get a few more scoring opportunities than I would if I was paired with another offensive defenseman.
Jordan, what is the one thing said or taught to you by a coach since you started playing hockey that will stick with you forever? -Cindi from Hill City, South Dakota JL: Great question, Cindi. I had a coach that told me if I made a mistake, go out there and correct it on the next shift. You always get another chance and don’t have to dwell on it. As a player, you’ll have your share of disappointments and triumphs, but you have to stay on an even keel and keep consistent.
Hey Jordan! I am a pretty hard worker when it comes to hockey. What is some advice that you could give me to make it to the NHL? -Tanner from Mabanx, Texas JL: Keep your head up and shoot for the stars, Tanner. There are a lot of guys in the NHL who don’t necessarily have all the skill in the world, but have created an identity for themselves by being hard-workers and good teammates. You don’t always have to be the best hockey player, but if you have a good attitude and work hard, anything can happen.
What do you think of Joe Sakic on the ice, off the ice and as a leader? -Jamie from Waterdown, Ontario JL: He’s definitely a class act and a future Hall-of-Famer without a question. It’s always nice when your best players are good people too. Joe fits that mold and is very easy to get along with. He made me feel right at home when I came here. We have a unique chemistry in the locker room because of him and our other veteran leaders.
Jordan, I remember seeing an episode of “Avalanche Alert” in which you were a “DJ for a Day” which made me wonder: Who is your favorite rock band? If you say The Beatles, you might be my favorite hockey player ever. -Brandon from Rose Hill, Kansas JL: Sorry, I can’t say The Beatles! I maybe could have said The Beatles five years ago. I’m actually kind of all over the map. I listen to my iPod right before the games in the locker room and usually have a mix of hard rock and metal going. Your Metallica’s, System of a Down, The Killers, Kanye West…I can’t really single out a band. I’m just a music fan in general.
I want to thank everyone who sent in questions this week. I enjoyed hearing from Avalanche fans from all over the world. We appreciate your support!