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Calvert, Cole Excited To Be Avs

The forward and defenseman signed with Colorado on Sunday

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele /

There will be some new faces wearing burgundy and blue sweaters when Colorado Avalanche training camp starts in September.

The Avalanche signed forward Matt Calvert and defenseman Ian Cole to three-year contracts on Sunday, the first day of the NHL's free-agency period, after both players made going to Colorado a priority.

"I think I was looking for somewhere where the team was solid, the team was growing," Calvert said of what was important to him as he was looking for a new club. "It's a very young team, they got some very good players--I think that was a first priority. I want to win, and I really can see us doing that in Colorado.

"The city is obviously beautiful, I have only been to it just for hockey games so you don't get to see much of it. But my wife and I traveled down last week and had a chance to see some areas where the guys live and all the facilities and meet the management [and] coaches. It was kind of a no-brainer for us."

The free-agency period is unique because players get to meet with different organizations in the days before July 1 and have some control over where they go.   

The privilege of being in the driver's seat gives free agents the opportunity to decide what matters most to them in regard to the next step in their careers.

"You get a small pick of maybe a couple teams that are interested in you, but you can almost choose where you feel the most comfortable," continued Calvert. "That's something that was a big thing for me. It seemed like a natural fit talking to management and coaches."

The 28-year-old left wing has experience with Jack Adams Award finalist and Colorado head coach Jared Bednar, as well as assistant coach Nolan Pratt. Calvert played for them with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization.

Cole also has a history with Avs head coach, as Bednar was one of his coaches during his first professional season with the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL in 2010-11.

"I think with the success that Colorado had last year, the trajectory that I personally see them on--only getting better, only increasing as far as their chances of doing something better," Cole said of why he made the decision to sign with the Avalanche. "There is just a lot to really like about the team situation, not to mention how great the city is. My wife and I have been there a couple times and really, really enjoy it."

Cole, 29, brings experience as a two-time Stanley Cup champion and can provide leadership to Colorado's developing defensive core.

The Avs were one of the youngest teams in the NHL last season, with a core that includes youthful blueliners such as 23-year-old Nikita Zadorov and 20-year-old Samuel Girard. There are also several more coming up through the minor-league system as well.  

"It's certainly very exciting. I mean young, yes certainly. Skilled, definitely with their group," Cole said of the chance to work with up and coming rear guards. "It's definitely exciting. I think for me it's not about trying to be a coach or any of that. I think that the ability to communicate is huge. Get on the same page off the ice, which would then translate to being on the same page on the ice.

"As a player, you try and pride yourself on being easy to play with and being tough to play against. I think the more predictable you can make yourself to your partner and your teammates, the faster you can play. And I know the Colorado Avalanche as a team likes to play very fast, and that's something that we are certainly going to try out."

Executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic has reiterated his goal of creating a team that is younger and faster to develop into regularly contending for the Stanley Cup.

With the added veteran pieces of Calvert and Cole, the objective is even more clear that the experience these players have will help the young Avs reach their target.

"We feel both of these guys are going to provide that leadership, the depth," said Sakic. "The way they play, what Ian provides and what Matt will provide offensively, is the way we want to go, the way we want to play. We think there is some great hockey from them for the next three years.

"We are pretty happy and the exciting thing is both Matt and Ian, this was a high priority place for them to come and play and join our group. We are excited, it was a mutual thing for all parties. They really wanted to be in Colorado here as well."

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