by Ron Knabenbauer
CENTENNIAL, Colo.--The 2016-17 season was anything put memorable for the Colorado Avalanche. It was a campaign the players and coaches would like to move on from as they set out to begin a new year, but not quite yet.
Colorado's 48-point performance was the basis of the club's motivation over the summer to be better and surprise the hockey world beginning this fall.
"Everybody did a little bit of soul searching this summer," said Avalanche forward Blake Comeau. "Everyone is excited to have a little bit of a redemption season. I think it's important that everyone is ready to go right from the start. Part of that is having that kind of atmosphere in training camp, a lot of skating, a lot of conditioning. It's going pay off for us once we get going."
It was a challenge that came from the top of the organization: to be faster, work harder, compete.
Following the Avs' last game on April 9 in St. Louis, the players went back to their respective hometowns to reflect and begin their training for a new year. Their motivation came from a season that was still fresh in their minds.
"You can't flush last season down the drain, because there is lots to learn from it," said head coach Jared Bednar. "There is a lot to learn from it for me, my staff and our players. We took a lot of things out that we've talked to our returning players about. Being stronger, physically, mentally, having a little bit more resolve to push through tough times because there is going to be some of that this year again."
Being the best conditioned team was an emphasis that was placed on the Avs, and the players seemed to take it to heart. While they enjoyed their time off back home, many of them returned to Denver throughout the summer to train with one another and push each other to be better.
So far, the early results from those offseason workouts have been positive as the team opened its 2017 training camp on Friday with plenty of hustle.
"Our testing has been intense, guys have come in in great condition," Bednar revealed. "Most of our results, we're tallying them to see how our guys fare, but you could see guys came back faster, stronger. They have to. Everyone in the league is doing that, and we're excited about that."