Sunday, August 30, 2009

Focus on a Thrasher: Colby Armstrong

I love Colby Armstrong. Who doesn't? I mean seriously, do you ever hear anyone say "God, Armstrong is such a bastard, I hate him. He's such a nice guy. Look at that face, how can you not love him?? As much as I love goalies, if I had to pick one player to hang out with, it would probably be Colby because he seems like he would be so much fun to be with. You know a player is a good guy when the fans of his old team wishes he was still there and constantly hopes for him to re-sign. Sorry Pens, he's ours!

I'm not sure there is any video of Colby that doesn't make me crack up. There are tons of funny Army videos on line and on the Thrashers site.

Here (at about minute 1:02) he starts talking about how he'll beat the other Thrashers players competing in the World Championships. This includes him one-punching the "Boris stank eye" right off of 6'7'' Boris Valabik's face.

Here we get to see Toby's skills as an interviewer as he interviews Toby Enstrom

More Interviewing skills with an interview with Zach Bogosian (is Zach drunk??? What a brain :p )

You can find dozens of funny Colby videos on youtube. Most of them have comments like "I wish he was back" and "I miss him." I've already posted a bunch of videos, but this is my favorite. Why can't I open up a bag and have Flower pop out??

Colby Joseph Armstrong was born on November 23, 1982 in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.

Colby is far from the only athlete in his family. His mother is figure skating instructor (maybe she could teach me). He also has a brother named Riley who is in the Calgary Flames organization. His sister, Tiffany, plays soccer for the University of Saskatchewan. His cousin, Nathan Gafuik, is a gymnast with the national team of Canada.

Well no wonder he skates so well! Do you think he ever got into the figure skating thing? Oh yeah, Army did some figure skating. He was an up and coming young figure skater in Saskatoon and once made it all the way to the sectionals. His mom Rosemary said his best jump was the double Salchow.

When Army wasn't doing Salchows and using jazz hands, he was playing youth hockey. He played for the Saskatoon Red Wings and the Saskatoon Blazers.

More fun Army facts, he attended St. Joseph High School in Sasketoon with LA Kings forward, Jarret Stoll.

Colby played his junior hockey with the Red Deer Rebels. In his first full season with the Rebels, 1999-00, he played in68 games. He ranked 4th in scoring with 38 points. He ranked 6th in penalty minutes. He led the team with a plus-30.

Army started his second season with the Rebels and played 72 games in the 2000-01 season. He ranked 4t in Red Deer again, but had 78 points this season and was ranked 3rd in goals on his team. He had 8 game winning goals that season.

Colby was drafted in the 1st round (21st overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He continued playing in Red Deer.

The 2001-02 season was Army's final season of junior hockey with the Rebels and he served as team captain. He played in 64 games and scored 68 points.

During his time in the WHL, Army recorded 185 points in 205 games with Red Deer. He appeared in 46 play off games and tallied 29 post season points.

With his junior hockey career over, Army reported to the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the 2002-03 season. In his first season as a Baby Pen he played in 73 games and scored 18 points.

Colby banged around with the Baby Pens for another 3 seasons. While he usually put up good numbers, 2004-05 was a break out season for Colby. He played in 80 games and scored 55 points. He saw increased ice time, plus action in special teams and ice time late in the game.

Colby was hoping that his outstanding play in the 2005-06 season with the Baby Pens would lead to a spot on the roster with the big boys, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately, for the fourth season in a row, Army was assigned to the Baby Pens. He did not get discouraged though:

Armstrong: I was down there quite a long time, but looking back, it was probably a good thing. You always want to get (to the NHL) as fast as you can, but I think I was a late bloomer. I think I needed the time down there to work on aspects of my game.

Pittsburgh wasn't doing that hot in the 2005-06 season though and on December 29, 2005 Colby Armstrong made his NHL debut against the New Jersey Devils. He never returned to the Baby Pens. Colby went from clearing waivers to playing on a line with league superstar, Sidney Crosby.
Armstrong: I don't know how that happens. When I came up, I was playing limited ice time, killing penalties. It wasn't until 10 or 12 games that I started feeling comfortable. They gave me a chance on a couple of power plays playing with Sid and Mark Recchi. Maybe I got my opportunity by default because Ziggy Palffy retired. But things suddenly started going very well.

Colby started the 2006-07 with the Pens. He played in 80 games and scored 34 points. All 12 of his goals were scored when the game was tied or with his team trailing. He scored three overtime goals, tying a team record held by Jaromir Jagr.

Though Colby started the 2007-08 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, changes were coming. On February 26, 2008 Army, along with Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito, and a first round pick, was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. (damn I miss Dupuis)

And that's how Army ended up a Thrasher. I felt sad for Army when he got traded, he seemed kind of stunned. I know he had a lot of good friends in Pittsburgh, including Sidney Crosby. Some fans think that he gives a half ass effort because he never really wanted to play here. I think that's bullshit. I think Army has too much pride in his play. Sure he misses his friends, but he wouldn't have been able to get the same ice time, opportunities and an "A" on his chest there. They have too many good players, we need a few! Army is a professional and now is one of the Thrashers' fan favorites.

Last season Army won the Dan Snyder Memorial Award. This award was created in 2004 to commemorate Dan Snyder, who died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in September 2003. The award is given to the player who best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed. You go, Army!

Army has gotten to do some pretty cool things in his career.
He was a member of the 2007 Canadian IIHF World Championship-winning team. His only goal of the tournament was the game-winning goal in the gold medal game against Finland. He also played for Canada in the IIHF World Championship in 2009.

Army also got to play in the 2008 Winter Classic between Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

This is one of my favorite Army pictures. The junior player of the game during this game must have been like 4 or 5 and could barely skate. He stumbled over to Army during the National Anthem. When it was time to skate to the bench, this little guy couldn't make it on his own. Army practically had to carry him. What a good guy!

I almost forgot, Colby married his long time sweetie Mel this summer right here in Atlanta at the amazing Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Congratulations Colby and may you and Melissa find much happiness!


Jane December 23, 2009 at 6:38 AM  

Awww what a great Colby report!! Loved it!! I adore him, I'm just nervous as to what's going to happen next summer. I was spazzing out and sitting on the edge of me seat last summer, somthing tells me I'm going to be even move nervous this year lol


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