Varly confident, ready for season
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I spoke with Semyon Varlamov this week after one of the Avalanche's voluntary practices. Varlamov looked good on the ice and said he is healthy and ready for training camp that begins Sept. 14.
Varlamov is fully recovered from the hip surgeries he had about halfway through last season -- one on each hip, four weeks between operations -- and said he feels fine.
Varlamov, who had been plagued by groin problems, said he's been skating since mid-July.
"I feel confident about it," he said. "I'm sure all the injuries are behind me and I'm just looking forward to having a really good, solid season -- a healthy season. It's been a tough stretch for me. The last six months there's been lots of rehab going on.
"I'm really blessed to have a really good team. I'm talking about the doctors and the physical therapist who works with me; they've done a tremendous job for me.
"I feel good on the ice and I'm getting closer to the training camp. I feel good and I'll be ready, a hundred percent when the training camp starts. That was the goal after the surgery, to prepare yourself for the training camp and be ready."
Varlamov said being healthy "brings a lot of confidence."
The Avalanche surely will need him to play at the level he did in 2013-14 when he was a Vezina Trophy finalist and they finished a surprising first in the Central Division.
"I mean, we've done everything we could this summer to get me back to where I was before the surgeries," he said. "I was healthy at the beginning of last year and I felt good, but after the first injury (and) then I get another injury and another one.
"Before then I felt good, so right now I'm ready to go."
As for last season, when the Avalanche finished with an embarrassing 48 points, Varlamov chooses to look ahead.
"Last year is last year," he said. "It was a long season for us. We all know ... it was very frustrating to watch the way we played, but it's history. We don't want to think about it anymore. We learned a lot, good things and bad things from last year, so we move on. Everybody regrouped, everybody had enough time to recharge their batteries, refresh mentally and stuff.
"I'm sure everyone's excited about a new season coming in. We're looking for a great season."
Varlamov is looking forward to working with new goalie coach Jussi Parkkila.
"We worked together in the KHL a long time ago, the 2007-08 season," he said. "That was the last season before I came here in the United States and the NHL. When we worked together we had success and I'm glad he's here. He's going to help me and he's going to help (new backup) Jonathan (Bernier)."
Varlamov is hopeful that fellow Russian Nikita Zadorov, an unsigned restricted free agent, agrees to a new contract soon.
"Hopefully he will sign a new deal pretty soon," he said. "It's not up to me, but I would love to see him on the team. He's a very talented defenseman. He can play in this league and be a very successful defenseman."