Stastny turning in memorable rookie season for Avs
DENVER ” Peter Stastny didn’t mean to be rude by leaving the dinner party so abruptly Tuesday night.
But time got away from the Hockey Hall of Famer and he had to rush home to watch his son, Paul, a rookie forward with the Colorado Avalanche, attempt to make team history. The father turned on the television in his St. Louis home just in time to see his son score two first-period goals, and assist on another, in Colorado’s 4-3 win over Calgary.
With his three-point night, Paul Stastny broke the record for most points (53) by an Avalanche rookie since the team moved to Denver. The record had belonged to Alex Tanguay, who had 51 points in 1999-2000.
“I’m usually the last one to leave a party, but I wanted to see (the record),” Peter Stastny said with a laugh.
Now the family owns two rookie records. Peter Stastny set the franchise mark of 109 points when he was a rookie for the Avalanche’s predecessor, the Quebec Nordiques, in 1980-81.
Paul Stastny needs to average almost 2.6 points a contest over the next 22 games to catch his father.
“I’ll let him have that,” Paul Stastny said with a grin that’s missing a front tooth.
Stastny doesn’t care about records and stats ” at least right now. He’s focused on the Avalanche’s climb toward a playoff berth. The team is currently eight points behind Calgary for the last spot in the Western Conference. The Avalanche have never missed the playoffs since moving to Denver in 1995.
“I just want to come in here and help the team win,” Stastny said. “If I’m putting up zero points or 20 points, if I’m helping the team in one way or another, I’ll take that. The record doesn’t mean nothing really. It’s one of those things you look (back) upon at summer time.”
Colorado coach Joel Quenneville never envisioned this type of season out of Stastny. The former University of Denver standout was a long shot to even make the roster heading into training camp. But he had a great preseason and earned his rightful place on the team.
Stastny has 21 goals this season, becoming just the third Colorado rookie to score more than 20 goals in a season.
“He’s been great from the outset,” Quenneville said. “You watch the things he does and it’s pretty amazing that a young kid has that sense with and without the puck. His positioning is pretty amazing.”
Stastny has a knack for being in the right place. He’s always in front of the net, knocking in a loose puck. That’s why he’s third in goals scored among NHL rookies this season. He’s also third in overall points. Fellow teammate and rookie Wojtek Wolski is fourth in points with 40, but is out for at least one more game with a concussion.
“(Paul) plays with a lot of smarts,” defender John-Michael Liles said. “He’s a great kid with a great attitude.”
Now if his teammates could only get him to do something about that missing front tooth. The gap, though, is a source of pride. He lost the tooth when he took a stick to the face at a world junior hockey camp.
He won’t even put the tooth in when he ventures out with his friends.
“I’ve only seen him wear his (artificial) tooth once or twice,” Liles said. “We’ve got to beg him to put gel in his hair. It gets a little embarrassing. His heart is in the right place. He’s a happy-go-lucky kid.”
Peter Stastny had reservations before the start of the season. He was a little nervous as Paul made the leap from the DU Pioneers straight to the Avalanche, with no stop in the minors for seasoning in between.
But Joe Sakic alleviated those fears when the father walked through the locker room one day. Sakic, who was mentored by the elder Stastny when he was a rookie, pulled the father to the side. He simply told him the kid was good and could hold his own.
“I knew he could play, but you never know,” Peter Stastny said. “Joe said, ‘He didn’t make the team because he’s your son. He deserved to make the team.’ That’s a good thing to hear. He’s with a great group of guys who put him in a position to showcase his talent. He’s done better than I could dream.”
The Stastnys talked about their rookie records when Paul called Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve got all the rookie records in the family,” Peter Stastny said with a hearty laugh. “One for senior and one for junior.”
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