It was his first full year in blue and white and it took him to extraordinary places. Joe Colborne was one of the hottest players out of the gate, points wise, in the AHL season of 2012-2013. He potted 19 points in his first 11 games. He also recorded his 1st NHL goal after being called up by the Leafs not long after his stellar start. When all was said and done, Colborne finished just shy of a 40 point campaign and added 8 pts in the post season, helping Toronto reach the Calder Cup finals.
Improving as a player is never easy, it always requires hard work. Add a shortened off-season and injuries to recover from and it made the trek through the off-season that much more difficult for Joe Colborne. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he talks to us now about the steps he took leading up to coming back to Toronto this September and some summer fun, too.
As a good Calgary boy, I’m sure you had the 100th anniversary of the Stampede high on your list of things to do this summer. How was the historical event?
“It’s called the greatest outdoor show on earth for a reason, the whole city shuts down and it’s a 10 day party. There are about ten people deep on the streets lined up. It’s such a good example of what Calgary has to offer. You have the rodeo, which offers the most prize money in the world, so they always have the best bull riders and bronc riders. Then you have the country concerts, which are unbelievable. I was able to see Garth for the 2nd time and he is my favourite. That’s one of the biggest highlights of my life, for sure.”
Considering you have attended since age 3, you must have witnessed and worn some great attire. Can you vouch for that?
“I’m getting more and more into it every year. The whole city gets dressed up. People come from all over the world, and they get dressed up..you have people from China and they are in full get up and they have no idea what they are wearing, but they do their best. It is such a good time, and it shows off the city of Calgary.”
Hockey players are considered some of the toughest athletes in sports. Where would you place the cowboys who are the main attraction in the stampede rings?
“A lot of people say hockey players are crazy for playing through injuries, I’ve had the opportunity to get right down with some of the bulls when the cowboys are going out there and they are on a whole different level….they are the toughest people on the planet, in my opinion, after our soldiers, it is scary when you see the size of those bulls and they are the ones strapping on to go ride those things. I’ve seen a guy get his leg stepped on by a bronc. A normal person would not even dream of getting up. He hopped up on one leg and shuffled back over and got out of the ring. Because of some technicality, he was offered to ride again. He went out to ride again with what I’m sure was a broken leg. The toughness of those guys really opens your eyes, it’s impressive.”
Unfortunately you were required to push through some injuries of your own last year. How are you feeling after your off-season wrist operation?
“You never want to have to get the surgery, but it was something I had to do. Thankfully the surgeon (Dr. von Schroeder ) is one of the best in the world and he took care of me. I’m very thankful for the work he and his staff did for me...it’s already surpassed where it was before the surgery. There are improvements that I am seeing and on a daily basis and I can feel the strength coming back. As much as it sucked to have it done during the summer, it was the right decision and now I can get back to where I feel comfortable shooting the puck more and I won’t have to worry about wrist pain every time I shoot the puck.”
While the wrist injury acted as a big challenge to overcome during the season, it did not stop there. You suffered another injury to the left hand that affected your playoffs. Is the bad luck over?
“There was a time in the playoffs I thought it might be better just to cut it off and start fresh from the elbow down. I’ve had 3 surgeries on that hand; bad things come in 3′s, so hopefully it’s over with.”
How difficult was it to persevere through that? Not a lot people knew exactly how bad u were hurting, yet pushing to get past it.
“I don’t want to make it seem worse than it was, everyone has bumps and bruises as the season goes on, it’s not something you want to deal with but it’s part of the game. We get paid money to play the game we love, so if you have to put up with some pain, it’s worth it. It was a learning experience. You don’t intend for it to affect the way you are playing. It might subliminally pop in there and affect the way you are coming in on a 2 on 1 and instead of taking the open shot you force something through. It might have crept in, but I don’t want to say it was the reason for my drop off in point production, but it could have contributed a little bit. “
Now that you are back on the ice, do you feel close to 100%?
“I’m making progress. It’s so much fun to be back on the ice again. There is nothing I like more in the summer, than to be out on the ice scrimmaging and having fun. That’s what was frustrating about this summer..not being on the ice until about a week or so ago. It’s improving every week really, starting with skating and then to stick handling and now I’m getting some shooting in there. The training staff is making sure I don’t’ over do it too much because I want to push it. It’s progress and hopefully before the season I’ll be back to 100 per cent or very close.”
What have you been able to work on during the off-season? Would you still like to add more muscle?
“I was fortunate enough to do a lot of legs and cardio this summer. It’s not always fun when you go 5 days and do leg and cardio every day. I’ve been eating like a horse all summer and have put on 5 pounds, but there is still some work to do, it has been hard with the bad wrist. But “the legs feed the wolfe” as they say, so hopefully that will get me ready for training camp and show that I have some stamina and keep that going through the season.
What excites you about returning to the Marlies, if that is where you end up?
“It’s going to be a great team this year and we have some great additions. Give credit to the scouting staff, along with Dallas, Gord and Kinger: One thing you know with the guys coming in, they’ve done their homework and they are bringing in character guys. With the base we set for the fans in the playoff run last year, hopefully we can carry that on. We proved we can play an exciting brand of hockey and hopefully we can keep that going!”
It is always great to catch up wtih the man they call “jumbo” and there will be more Marlies/Leafs stopping by the blog soon! Thanks for logging on!