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Training Camp Energizes Bellemare

New Avalanche forward is familiar with change

by Zach Shapiro /

Pierre-Édouard Bellemare has played professionally in three countries, speaks three different languages and is with his third NHL team in the last four years. So this latest change of environment is hardly intimidating for the 34-year-old center. As long as he has a place where he thought he could develop his craft and contribute to the team's success, he would be fine. 

The Colorado Avalanche checked off all the boxes. 

"I felt they had a clear view of what type of player I am, and quite frankly told me they weren't satisfied, that there was room for improvement," Bellemare said of what attracted him to the Avs. "I've always said I will play hockey until the day I stop learning, so to find an organization that's so prestigious--telling me right away that we like you but you have [more to improve]… I just want to be better. I want to be a player who can help the team. 

"I may not have all the natural talent, but if I can make one play that I learned here and help the team in a big situation then that's all I want. They gave me that."

Bellemare began his career in his native France before playing in Sweden's professional hockey leagues from 2006-2014. He didn't reach the NHL until age 29, signing with the Philadelphia Flyers as a free agent ahead of the 2014-15 season. 

Bellemare appeared in at least 74 games in each of his three seasons in Philly, notching a total of 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) before being selected by the Vegas Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. And though he enjoyed his two most offensively productive seasons in Vegas--totaling 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists)--and even reached the Stanley Cup Final with the club in 2018, his long journey to the top of his profession taught him to embrace every moment in the NHL. Even if it's Day 1 of training camp with a new team.

"I'm not judging the guys who have been here since they were 18 years old who [have been to lots of training camps]. I get that," Bellemare said. "But I got [to the NHL] so late that it's like, 'Ok, today could be the last day, so open your eyes and enjoy it.' And it's a good experience to one day tell my grandchildren. So I'm lucky enough to be able to just enjoy it."

Video: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on signing with the Avs

His attitude and work ethic appears to radiate throughout the locker room, giving him a natural leadership quality around the team. But that presence isn't by design--it's just an indirect result of his own routine to improve as a pro, to do what's needed to do his job effective. 

"I'm here early and do everything I need to do, and eventually I get that [label] of a leader," he said. "But it's just me doing what I need to do to be able to be competitive every day."

Speaking three languages he said also helps him relate to his teammates and communicate effectively on the ice.

"That's probably the best advice in my career. When I was 21 and my mom told me to just learn the languages," Bellemare said.

Bellemare's personality and approach to his job gives the Avalanche an idea of what to expect from its newest addition, and he could soon become a local favorite in the community as well.

"They're probably going to learn really fast that I like to interact with the fans," Bellemare said. "There aren't many days when I'm [ticked off]. I came to the league so late that I can only enjoy every day, and I try to grind. They're not going to see me go coast-to-coast to top net, but I like to be a reliable player for the team."

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