Avs tab Wolski as second-line center
DENVER -- After limping into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak, the Colorado Avalanche are counting on a rookie named Wojtek Wolski to give them a spark when the playoffs begin Saturday at Dallas.
"I couldn't put it into words how excited I am," he said. "It's something I definitely wanted. I'm just going to work hard and pitch in as much as I can."
Coach Joel Quenneville said Wolski probably will get time on the power play. Colorado could use some offensive punch: They scored only five goals in their last three regular-season games.
"The first thing I noticed today were his quick hands," Quenneville said. "He looks like a complete player. We got to find out that he could play center, and I think he's going to give us a huge boost."
It's been an ugly year for Colorado on the injury front. The Avs lost leading goal scorer Marek Svatos to a shoulder injury last month. Already gone for the season are Steve Konowalchuk (wrist) and Ossi Vaananen (leg).
Wolski was used as a left wing in the Avalanche's first nine games of the season before he was sent to the junior leagues. It was a tough choice for Quenneville.
"The first five days of training camp, he was our best player. The upside is huge," he said.
Avalanche captain Joe Sakic said the team's decision was a good one.
"He played well here, but going back and getting that extra ice time and playing the way he did is only going to help him," Sakic said. "I'm a big believer in that -- young kids have to play a lot."
Wolski came to Denver after scoring 47 goals and 128 points in the Ontario Hockey League playing for the Brampton Battalion. He and several Brampton teammates dyed their hair blond for the playoffs, and several sandy streaks remain.
"I was going to grow a beard, too, but it takes a pretty long time for me," he said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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