The game will hold special significance for one Colorado player: free-agent signing Scott Hannan, who broke into the National Hockey League with the San Jose organization in 1998-99. The defenseman played the first eight seasons of his career on the West Coast after the Sharks drafted him in the first round (23rd overall) of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.
Hannan, who is still getting his feet wet with the Avalanche after coming to terms with the club on July 1st, will understandably have some extra motivation in his first game against his old club.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it, but you have to approach it as though it was just another game,” said Hannan. “You just have to worry about going out there and concentrating on what you have to do as a team.”
After beginning his career in San Jose, the defenseman said that this summer was simply “time to move on” and that the move to sign with Colorado was “just part of the business”. Nevertheless, Hannan still keeps in touch with many of his friends from San Jose, and jokes that there might be some trash talking with his ex-teammates.
“I’m sure there will be a little bit, especially after the game,” said Hannan. “It’s just a game that I want to win really badly.”Lake Erie Opens Season Saturday Night
The Lake Erie Monsters will kick-off their inaugural season on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Quicken Loans Arena when they face the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Jose Theodore will start in goal for the Monsters on Saturday to complete his rehabilitation before returning to Colorado on Sunday.
In addition to Theodore, fans in Cleveland will have plenty of talented players to root for. All 23 members of Lake Erie’s opening night roster attended either Colorado’s 2007 Rookie Camp or Training Camp, including:
• Two-time AHL All-Star Eric Healey
• 2007 Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalists T.J. Hensick and David Jones
• Defenseman Jeff Jillson, who previously played in Cleveland with the Barons
• Mark Rycroft, who skated in 66 games with the Avalanche a season ago
• Codey Burki, who finished fifth in the Western Hockey League scoring race with 85 points (36g/49a) in 70 games during the 2006-07 campaign.
Monsters head coach Joe Sacco will be making his professional head coaching debut on Saturday. Sacco spent the past two seasons as an assistant with Colorado's last two AHL affiliates, the Lowell Lock Monsters (2005-06) and Albany River Rats (2006-07). As a player, Sacco saw action in 738 NHL games with Toronto, Anaheim, the New York Islanders, Washington and Philadelphia.
Assisting Sacco will be former Avalanche defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre, who is making his coaching debut after spending the 2006-07 season with the organization as a development scout. Lefebvre appeared in 945 NHL contests over 14 seasons with Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, Colorado and the New York Rangers, totaling 30 goals, 154 assists and 674 penalty minutes. He was part of the Avalanche defensive corps for four seasons from 1995-99, including the club’s Stanley Cup Championship campaign of 1995-96.