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Colorado Avalanche: News from around the NHL October 2nd, 2014

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The Calgary Herald has a preview of the Colorado Avalanche.

Patrick Roy earned plenty of hardware during his playing days and it seems the Hall of Fame goaltender isn't done adding trophies to his mantle.

Not much was expected of the Colorado Avalanche in 2013-14, but Roy managed to raise the bar in Denver as a rookie NHL coach, leading the Avs to a Central Division title while picking up the Jack Adams Award for himself.

Of course, Roy is hardly satisfied with merely making the playoffs. He was a big part of four Stanley Cup championship teams as a goalie, lifting the Cup twice with Montreal and two more times in Colorado. Clearly, anything short of returning to the top of the NHL mountain as a coach would be considered failure.

Colorado president Joe Sakic, a teammate of Roy's on two championship teams and himself a Hockey Hall of Famer, was criticized before the start of last season for pairing a rookie coach with a young team. However, Roy made it easy on his old friend by getting the Avs off to a ridiculously hot start, winning 14 of his first 16 games behind the bench. The critics kept waiting for the Roy's Avalanche to implode, but that didn't happen until the first round of the playoffs when Colorado fell in seven games to Minnesota.

Mitchell is injured, Winchester has a concussion, but McGinn might play in the season opener.

The Avalanche initially cast doubt about the availability of left wing Jamie McGinn for the start of the season, but coach Patrick Roy said Wednesday the 19-goal scorer from a season ago should be ready when the puck drops next Thursday in Minnesota.

That was the best medical news for the Avs on a day that had some less encouraging developments. Fourth-line center Jesse Winchester could be out awhile after suffering a concussion in Tuesday's exhibition game in Calgary, and third-line center John Mitchell — though he continues to skate and make progress from migraines — is unlikely to be ready for the season opener.

Having McGinn available would help stabilize a third line that will be important to Colorado's chances of success. While the top two lines are studded with talent, the bottom two would be a worry if McGinn and Mitchell were to miss significant time.

The Globe and Mail thinks the pressure is on MacKinnon to be the next "Next One", and they talked to Duchene to see his thoughts on being a young guy with a lot of promise.

Hockey people have various stock explanations for this.

It’s positioning, or defensive awareness, or maturity, or adjusting to the speed. All of these terms are well and good, but they’re buzzword-y and unsatisfyingly vague.

So we turn to the Avalanche’s Matt Duchene, Canadian Olympian and a former third-overall draft pick, to fill in the details as to why exactly this position is so tricky.

It boils down to surviving in your own end Duchene said: “You’re matched up against some of the best players in the league. Offensively, that part takes care of itself, it’s playing both ways that’s hard.”

Duchene, who admits that after five years in the league he’s still figuring this stuff out, said the myriad nuances of the defensive game in the NHL are essentially about “making the right decisions at the right time.”

Men's Journal has an interview with the author of Boy on Ice.

Even if you don't know anything about the rules of hockey, you can't help react to the fights. Whether it be the anticipation as you watch two heavyweights toss their gloves and size each other up, the thrill of the knockout punch, or maybe you just don't get why a pro sport would stop the action so guys can pulverize each other, the hockey fight is one of the part of the game that gets us all riled up. Wherever you stand on players throwing punches, aside from maybe an overtime goal, hardly anything brings fans to their feet quite like a tussle in the middle of the game. And nobody does it better than the enforcer, the guy whose job it is to start trouble and get into fights, either as a way to send a message to the opponents, or get his own team fired up.

With Boy on Ice, the new book by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter John Branch, the effects of numerous fights on an individual player are explored through the life, career, and death of the 6'8" former Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard, who, at the age of 28, overdosed on drugs and alcohol while recovering from a concussion.

But Boy on Ice is also something else that might not be as expected: It's one of the best books on hockey you will ever read. With Boogaard, a hard working and good natured giant whose violent job leads to drug addiction to help ease the pain of repeated blows to the head and bare knuckle blows to the skulls of other players, we have the tragic central figure. Almost as important, Branch provides a snapshot of hockey culture in Canada, which, as most people know, is the heart  in the Great White North. We see the small towns and small teams, and the love of the game that keeps people warm throughout the frozen winters. It's that, combined with the prospect of little else in terms of a future, that drives Boogaard to work harder to become more than just a massive man who can throw a punch. Branch tells his story, but also explains the game itself, and sheds a light on the unnecessary violence that might be its greatest flaw.

A Montreal Canadiens prospect is getting a bit of heat.

Hamilton Bulldogs player and Montreal Canadiens prospect Magnus Nygren doesn’t seem to like Hamilton very much.

In a blog post from the Swedish press from earlier this year, Nygren reportedly said the following about the city after asking to be sent back to his home club Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League last season:

  • Hamilton is Canada’s “most criminal city.” (It isn’t. That’s Regina, by a wide margin).
  • Hamilton’s unemployment rate is 33.5 per cent. (It was 7.1 in August of this year – down 0.2 per cent).
  • That in Hamilton they "shoot people for $100.”
  • That the team “doesn’t have very many fans.”
  • That his car window was smashed out “by angry fans.”
  • That the Bulldogs’ players were “more interested in dating than playing hockey.”