The Colorado Avalanche is making its first trip of the season to Las Vegas to take on the Golden Knights, and the trek marks the first time that Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will be in the visiting dressing room of T-Mobile Arena.
Bellemare was claimed by the Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft in 2017 and played in 148 out of 164 contests in Vegas' first two years of existence. During his first season with the Knights, he finished with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 72 outings, setting career highs in assists and points while helping Vegas reach the Stanley Cup Final.
In his second campaign in Sin City, he tallied 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 76 games while also serving as one of the team's alternate captains.
"I mean it's a buzzing arena, I know that. It's going to be quite exciting," Bellemare said of returning to Vegas. "I think I'm going to take the time to open my eyes and just see it from the other side. I've played in it for two years and I knew how unbelievable it was, but kind of being the enemy and just seeing the show from the other side, it's going to be fun to just make sure I get memories from it."
This is the 34-year-old's sixth NHL season, but his first with the Avalanche. He signed a two-year deal with Colorado this offseason as a free agent and has quickly adjusted to the new squad. Bellemare has scored twice and added an assist in the first nine games of this season while averaging 11:58 of ice time per game.
Video: BOS@COL: Calvert, Bellemare connect for goal
Adjusting to a new coaching staff and a new system can be a challenge, but the Le Blanc-Mesnil, France, native said the excitement being in a new spot outways the nerves of the change. It reminds him of the sentiments he had when he first started playing the sport.
"[The transition was] quite simple, way easier. It's a weird feeling to come to a new place and to come to a new locker room, but in another way, this is the feeling that I had when I was six years old and I started hockey," said Bellemare. "You know, you're a little bit nervous to talk to guys and everything, and I'm 34, so that's pretty beautiful. Guys were super simple, so hockey-wise, it couldn't have gone better really."
Video: COL@FLA: Nieto scores off nice pass from Bellemare
Off the ice, he and his family are putting the final touches on the transition process. His wife gave birth to their second child, a daughter, in Las Vegas in August, and they have finally found a place to live in the Denver area.
"Family-wise, we've been looking for a house and we found it, so now as soon as we get into that house, I think Denver is finally going to feel like a home," said Bellemare. "Right now, it's like we're still waiting for our stuff and everything, but everybody's healthy… I was [in Vegas], we gave birth to our second kid there and then moved three days after here. So, it's still pretty soon, it doesn't feel like such a long time ago, so maybe it's going to make it even easier."
Going back to a place that he called home for two years will likely be emotional, but for Bellemare, the task at hand is to get the two points for the Avs in the standings.
"At the end of the day, I mean it's exciting don't get me wrong and everything, but I kind of know that we have a game to win, and that's the most important part," he said. "It's exciting to go back and to play and to see a lot of people, but we have a job to do. I'm excited, but I'm also eager just to be able to play against the guys."
Video: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare before the Avs head to Vegas