In the media availability session after Monday’s optional practice at Family Sports Center, I asked Avalanche winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel what he thought of one of his former Flyers teammates.
Fellow by the name of Claude Giroux.
“He’s a good teammate, good captain,” Aube-Kubel said. “He’s probably a Hall of Famer, a really good player.”
The reason I asked was fairly obvious, of course.
It’s apparent the Flyers — including newly named assistant to the general manager Daniel Briere — are scouting the Avalanche and the Eagles.
They’re considering what sort of packages might be involved in a deal to send Giroux to Colorado in advance of the March 21 trading deadline.
But Aube-Kubel — who might not have known where it could lead — stopped there.
Neither I nor anyone else pressed with a follow-up. That would have put the Avalanche winger, claimed on waivers from the Flyers on November 13, in an awkward position.
(We probably should have pressed on, anyway, but table-and-microphone pack interview mechanics tie tongues at times, far more so than one-on-one or small-scrum chats at locker room stalls. Those types of talks are impossible now, whether post-practice, post-skate or post-game. Generally, it’s Jared Bednar and two or three players facing a group. I support the protocol and policies, but there is a cost to the coverage. In other words, I would have liked to approach Aube-Kubel at his stall and say: “So tell me about Claude Giroux.”)
If Giroux came to the Avalanche, it most likely would be as a second-line left winger, and — depending on who’s left — the ripple effect could change Aube-Kubel’s role.
For now, though, he continues to mesh with the team that claimed him during his fourth season with the Flyers.
In 34 games for Colorado, he has seven goals and seven assists. Since Darren Helm’s return to the lineup, the fourth line has been Tyson Jost with Helm and Aube-Kubel.
I asked Aube-Kubel how he has fit in so well.
“I don’t know, put in the effort,” he said. “This team is really fast, probably the fastest in the league. I like to play fast. We have such good defensemen, they’re part of our offense, it’s really unique.”
Part of this is expectations, since nobody was thinking Aube-Kubel would come in and make fools of the Flyers, for whom he scored 10 goals in 102 games.
But on a skating team, he seems in a good place, including on his latest line.
“I think we’re really fast and put a lot of effort in the forecheck,” he said of the line. “Everyone was working hard on the line [at Dallas Sunday], and I think that pays off. Time on the O-zone, not much time in the D-zone. Fits us.”
He passed on taking a shot at the Flyers.
“I had my chances in Philadelphia,” he said. “I think it was just time I had something new, like a fresh start. I’m really glad I’m in Colorado for that fresh start.”
NOTES: Most of the roster was out for Monday’s optional, and Jacob MacDonald — out since mid-December since suffering a head injury against the Panthers — was in a regular jersey. Coach Jared Bednar said he hasn’t been cleared to play yet, but is being eased into contact in practice … The Avalanche and Stars meet in the second half of the back-to-back Tuesday at Ball Arena … The reaction to Stars captain Jamie Benn not getting involved in an altercation with Kurtis MacDermid Sunday was comical. Right. Benn and MacDermid, who is filling his role but still is Colorado’s least talented player, each going off for five minutes is a fair trade? That would be like another enforcer goading Gabriel Landeskog — no pacifist himself — into a fight. How would Avalanche fans and fan-alists react to that?
Terry Frei (email@example.com, @tfrei) is a Denver-based author and journalist. He has been named a state’s sportswriter of the year seven times in peer voting — four times in Colorado and three times in Oregon. His seven books include the novels “Olympic Affair” and “The Witch’s Season.” Among his five non-fiction works are “Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming,” “Third Down and a War to Go,” “March 1939: Before the Madness,” and “’77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age.” He also collaborated with Adrian Dater on “Save By Roy,” was a long-time vice president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and has covered the hockey Rockies, Avalanche and the NHL at-large. His web site is www.terryfrei.com and his bio is available at www.terryfrei.com/bio.html
His Colorado Hockey Now column archive can be accessed here