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Colorado Avalanche: News From Around the NHL October 31st, 2014

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Want to see Maxime Talbot dance in a hot dog costume?!

He is a professional hockey player for the Avalanche. And he is in a hot dog costume. Halloween really is the best.

Is Vanek involved in money laundering?

Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek's off-ice problems might have just gotten a lot worse.

The Wild's newest winger is reportedly involved in a money-laundering scheme related to the federal gambling investigation he was implicated in over the summer. The news broke when a New York-based bookkeeper named Mark Ruff pleaded guilty to running a gambling ring in Rochester. His plea included an admission that Ruff's $230,000 gambling debt was paid in full with a paycheck from the New York Islanders.

Pickard is back to Lake Erie, but he talks about his trip to the big league.

The reality for every Lake Erie Monsters hockey player is that he is a phone call away from National Hockey League. That life-changing, goal-affirming call can come at any time, such as when you're at an afternoon skate the day of a road game in Chicago.

That's where the Colorado Avalanche tracked down 22-year-old Calvin Pickard on Oct. 16.

About six hours later, he was sitting on the bench for the first time in a regular-season NHL game in Ottawa, where the Avs were playing the Senators. He was the backup goalie because Colorado No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov injured his groin in a morning skate that day.

"It was kind of a whirlwind,'' he said. "I was all of a sudden at the airport in Chicago flying to Ottawa. Once I got to Ottawa, I had to go straight to the rink for the game.''

The National Post has some of their fave NHL'ers Halloween costumes up.

For a couple of years, it felt like the NHL was having trouble with Halloween, even if the trouble was actually only linked to a couple of poor costume choices. In 2011, there was Raffi Torres and his wife, who attended a party dressed as Jay-Z and Beyoncé, having "coloured their skin to appear black."

And Bozak himself caused a stir the following year, with a costume intended as a tribute to late singer Michael Jackson. As an associate professor in the department of history at Queen’s University put it: "Was it knowingly racist? No … But does it have consequences with regard to racial insensitivity? I would say yes."

Several NHL players have gained notice for their costumes again this year, but for good reasons — including some very, very good reasons — related to creativity and goodwill.

Howe showing signs of improvement.

Gordie Howe has a long way to go to recover from a stroke he suffered over the weekend, his son said Wednesday amid an outpouring of support from the hockey community.

"Mr. Hockey" has shown some signs of improvement from what son Mark called a "pretty significant stroke" and is resting at his daughter Cathy’s home in Lubbock, Texas.

"It’s a difficult time for Dad," Mark Howe said in a phone interview from Lubbock. "It definitely impacted his life, so we’re dealing with this, I think, as all families do and just trying to be there. The best thing we can do is just be here and be supportive and try to keep him in good spirits."

Hossa got his 1,000th career point.

Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa had a memorable night in the city where his NHL career started.

Hossa had a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks’ 5-4 shootout win over the Senators on Thursday night in Ottawa, reaching two special milestones where he began his career back in 1997.

Hossa’s goal at 13:50 of the third period was his 1,000th career point and it came in his 1,100th game in the NHL. The veteran forward started his career with the Senators, moved on to Atlanta, Pittsburgh and then Detroit before finding his current home in Chicago.

Lastly, for funsies, the Avs- Isles recap on

The shutout was the 14th of Varlamov's NHL career, his 10th with the Avalanche. He is 2-0-2 and has stopped 141 of 148 shots in his past four starts.

"I had a rough start, and right now it's very important for me to get my confidence back," said Varlamov, who made 49 saves Tuesday in a 3-2 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. "It was important game for us. Really frustrating about that game two days ago. It was a tough loss, but tonight we played solid hockey, played all three periods. We scored a lot of goals too. We get our confidence back for our offense."