Foote at peace in role as Avs’ captain
The Denver Post
There is a serenity to Adam Foote now, the kind of peace that comes to a man who has checked off most of his life’s goals. There is a beautiful family at home, Stanley Cup rings and Olympic gold medals in the trophy case, and, now, a big “C” on his chest.
Before the Avs played their first exhibition with the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center on Thursday night, Foote sat relaxed after another of the thousands of morning game-day skates he’s participated in since entering the NHL on Oct. 19, 1991. The nose still is as crooked as ever; the hands nicked and calloused. But there is peace in Foote’s hazel eyes.
Around the Avalanche dressing room, there is uncertainty in the eyes of many others. Foote and Milan Hejduk are the only two Avs who have been with the team since the turn of this century, and, at age 38 Foote is more than twice as old as the first-round draft pick across the room, Matt Duchene, 18.
Foote is old enough to be Duchene’s dad, and, as the successor to Joe Sakic as captain, he will be asked to be a role model, mentor, father-confessor. He’ll take on any duty that comes with the tag, except babysitter.
“I’m not going to change who I am,” Foote said. “Joey did such a great job with that, the way he led, how he approached this dressing room with his work ethic, how the guys came in and saw him do what he did. That’s what I want to continue. I think, with how young a team we’re getting, the big thing for me is to be supportive to the young guys.”
Foote was among the five Avs that took the opening faceoff Thursday and he led the team in ice time, playing more than 23 minutes. Colorado won 3-1 behind goals from Marek Svatos, Ryan Stoa and Wojtek Wolski, and Craig Anderson’s 18 saves.
Foote considered it a “huge” win.
“We have a lot of young guys and it’s exciting to start this way,” he said. “I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to sell the game, sell the team, but to see young guys like (Ryan) O’Reilly, Duchene and (T.J) Galiardi do well is exciting for me.”
Foote had a laugh after the morning skate Thursday about an Avs rookie who got all apologetic about a bad pass to him in drills.
“I remember my first practice with the Nordiques, and I threw a bad pass over to Mike Hough, who was captain at the time. I probably said sorry about three times,” said Foote, a veteran of 1,040 games. “I told (the rookie) to relax, not to worry about it. But I know at that age, when you’re just starting out, that can be hard to do.”
Avs coach Joe Sacco said that calming influence was a big reason he named Foote captain. “We sat down about a week before camp started, and it was an easy call. He’s earned the right to be captain of this hockey club.”
Talk to those who have played with and known Foote for a long time, and they’ll cite a difference between then and now:
“He’s more relaxed,” Sakic said recently. “He was a little bit high-strung his first few years, got pretty wound up about every bad night. You could start to see him change a lot more after we came to Denver and we all started having some veteran guys that were a good influence.”
Foote cites the many years he roomed on the road with Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy, who taught him how to handle the ups and downs of a long season.
“It was as good an education in the game of hockey as you could get,” Foote said. “I was lucky. Not just Patty, but guys like Joe, you couldn’t have a better example to the rest of the guys as a captain. And guys like Mike Keane really showed some of us younger guys what it was all about. Then we got Ray Bourque later on, and I just learned so much from him. Anything I’ve learned and can pass along to some of these guys, for sure that’s what I’m going to do, and if it helps their game at all or helps them learn how to be a pro at this level, that’s all good.”
Adrian Dater: 303-954-1360 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Chambers contributed to this report.