The day after signing his first professional contract last season, avalanche newcomer Cale Makar was the first defender in history to score a final goal on his NHL debut.
It was against the flames, the team he grew up for.
A day earlier, Makar was in Buffalo to take part in an NCAA championship with the University of Massachusetts before missing the program's first appearance on the Frozen Four.
"I want to say that I was calm all the time," he told the Post with a grin at the Avs' 1-0 loss to the islanders on Monday night at the Nassau Coliseum.
Makar, the fourth choice in the 2017 draft, recalled the arduous journey from a large to an even larger stage. It was a process to get his visa and there were several airports to navigate on the way to Calgary.
But when Makar was finally in his hometown, he was ready to play. The then 20-year-old was not surprised at how many shifts he got immediately. Makar had an average of 17:22 minutes of ice age in 10 playoff games last season, so he preferred it.
"I just wanted to be thrown in," he said. "I think if I hadn't played in that first game, I probably would have missed a lot of things just to be there. It was just able to just get in and defeat the whole whirlwind of a few weeks. "
Makar said a taste of the NHL game in last season's playoffs made starting his first regular season a lot easier. Above all, he had the opportunity to get a head start on his introduction to the team. And boy did his new teammates welcome him.
Colorado defeated the Flames in five games and the Sharks were on deck. Between the series, avalanche players took part in a nuggets game in which Makar was caught wearing a cowboy hat on the jumbotron.
"He was shaking his head," said avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog about Makar's first reaction when he presented the stylish hat for the first time. "He blushed a bit, but then he just took it like a man and rocked it.
“Cale is a good sport. The rookie stuff and since he's the young guy, he accepts it. "
But Landeskog said Makar didn't play like a beginner. Even after Landeskog took long-time Avalanche team-mate Nathan Mackinnon, who was recently named Central Division captain for the 2020 All-Star game, into the league in 2013, he is considered the most impressive rookie he has ever seen.
Makar's two-point performance in the Avs' 7-3 win over the Blues on January 2 made him the eighth defender in NHL history, scoring his first 30 points in the regular season in 33 games or fewer and the second Do this with a Colorado team. With 32 points (nine goals, 23 assists), he ranks second among newcomers to the league and is currently the first Powerplay quarterback.
However, it is not in Makar's nature to readily discuss his accomplishments. In fact, the attention he received made him uncomfortable at the border – like when an employee at the Denver International Airport train station called and asked him to record his voice to greet travelers to the state. He wasn't a fan of it.
But get him to talk about his ambition and suddenly he has more to say than usual.
"I think for myself, only in general I have high expectations," said Makar. “I just want to be able to come every day and just be consistent. I honestly haven't thought about these long-term goals and things like that. I think it's just more team goals for me to produce and have fun with these people. "
Makar suddenly found himself in the 2020 NHL All-Star Last Men In conversation. And with the direction he's headed, the Calder Trophy, which is given to the NHL newcomer of the year each year, seems to be an option.
"I would be very honored and humbled," said Makar, to become an all-star. "It's not something I really think. If it happens, it happens."