Galiardi will never forget roots

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

T.J. Galiardi turned in his Calgary Hitmen jersey two years ago.

But the Colorado Avalanche forward said he'll always be a Hitmen.

The homegrown product has been skating with the Hitmen this week in an attempt to stay sharp over the Olympic break.

Galiardi said he keeps a close eye on his former WHL squad.

"Last year, I still had a lot of buddies on the team, and there's still a few lingering around this year," he said after practising with the Hitmen at Centennial Arenas Tuesday.

"I like to keep up with them, and I think I will even when I don't know anyone. It's that good of an organization. You're happy to be a part of it, and you're happy when they're successful.

"They're having a great season, and I wish them all the luck in the playoffs."

Galiardi took a few days to relax before getting back on the ice.

"It's been a fun break," he said. "A bunch of us went to Cancun for a couple of days, and, then, I decided to come back here.

"It's nice that (the Hitmen) let me come out and skate with them a couple of times and get the rust off."

Galiardi, who had 18 goals and 70 points in his lone WHL season in 2007-08, has been anything but rusty with the Avalanche this season.

He credits his coaches, present and former, for his quick progression.

"I've had a lot of good coaches," the 21-year-old said.

"Our coaches this year have been unbelievable with me.

"They've taught me how to play in the defensive zone first and help from our own net."

Galiardi has nine goals and 26 points in 51 NHL games and has a plus/minus of plus-11, second best on the Avs.

He's helped the Avalanche put up a surprising 35-20-6 record, tops in the Northest Division.

"We're definitely surprising some people."


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