Ian Cole is a two-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
So he knows a thing or two about big beards.
Cole, now in his second season with the Avalanche, begins growing his playoff beard at the start of the season in October — if he believes he’s on a team capable of making the playoffs.
The Avalanche was definitely that team, and since the 2019-20 season could cover an entire year — with the Cup expected to be awarded in early October — Cole could have the biggest beard in the history of playoff beards.
If the Avalanche plays for the Cup, that is.
“This is definitely as big as it’s gotten in my career. People seem to respond to it well,” Cole, now in his 10th NHL season, said on a Zoom call. “Am I incapable of playing without a beard — is this my thing? I don’t know. Maybe not. Maybe it is. But if you feel confident your team is going to make the playoffs, you want to start growing it a little early.”
Cole, 31, was also asked about the Avalanche’s genuine chances of winning this thing or at least making it to the conference or Cup finals. He certainly knows a thing or two about that and says the Avs’ depth at all three positions supports a long run.
“Looking at our team, I think we very much check those boxes. There is a lot of excitement for our team and amongst the guys on our roster,” Cole said. “It’s something that we’re very excited about.”
Minus the media. Media isn’t allowed in the Avalanche’s training-camp bubble and security will be even tighter at the NHL Western Conference bubble in Edmonton after teams travel to that hub city. Like the old days, players will be more apt to marinate in their soggy equipment after games and practices, instead of hurrying off to their private dressing room in their undergarments.
In the old days, there was just one dressing room.
In a normal world, Avs captain Gabe Landeskog usually grants interviews one-on-one or scrum interviews after most practices and games before seeking privacy with his teammates. Not anymore.
For the rest of this season and probably to begin 2020-21, players will talk to the camera on Zoom calls and only hear questions from reporters.
“We’re always going to miss you guys,” Landeskog said of familiar Denver media. “We get to know all you guys, and get to see all you guys after practice and games. When you’re not playing very well, it can sometimes be tough. But, no doubt, I truly enjoy most interviews. It’s a good time to have that energy space right after, whether it’s practice or games, it gives you a little time to reflect on what’s going on.
“But on the flip side, I truly enjoy the downtime in the locker room right after practices or games — especially practices. You kind of sit around. You don’t rush out of there. Everybody is getting undressed at the same time and you’re shooting the (breeze) in there, which is a lot of fun. It goes both ways.”
Unfortunately for the traveling media, it doesn’t go both ways. Building relationships face-to-face and promoting one-on-one interviews are highly important in our industry. Writing game stories from television is the last thing we want to do.
Let’s hope the NHL’s world with Zoom doesn’t last long.
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