SAN JOSE, CALIF. - There won't be any getting Alex Kerfoot off his game mentally with a "How do you like them apples?" crack about the Harvard grad, a la Matt Damon to that pony-tailed D-bag in that bar scene from "Goodwill Hunting."
No doubt, though, plenty of opponents will try. American "college boys" still face a barrage of trash talk on the ice in the NHL, and that goes triple for anyone from "Hah-vahd" ("Hey Harvard boy, Shakespeare called, he wants his #%$^& iambic pentameter back", "Hey Harvard boy, where's your %#&#^! dinner jacket?").
Kerfoot, who played four years at the Ivy League bastion of learning, probably will have a clever comeback or two. It's clear, from listening to him, that the money spent on the education part of his college experience wasn't wasted (there are no athletic scholarships in the Ivy League). Kerfoot says things like, "That really fostered my development."
That may be a first, a hockey player saying anything "fostered" anything, in a sentence.
So far, though, Kerfoot hasn't had to reach into his verbal arsenal in response to any incoming fire. After playing the first NHL game of any kind Saturday night, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound center said it was an insult-free experience. He knows something will come eventually, however, especially if he keeps playing the way he did against the prospects of the San Jose Sharks.
"Everybody's got something on everyone, so you're going to get everything," said Kerfoot, who assisted on a goal and could have had a couple more in Colorado's 7-4 loss.
Kerfoot may have played collegiately in America, but he's 100-percent Canadian. He grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, a rabid Canucks fan. As might be expected for a kid who got into Harvard based on his grades and not just his athletic skill, Kerfoot was an ace student growing up. In fact, he wasn't even sure he wanted to be a hockey player for much of his younger life.
"My parents instilled in me, at a young age, that academics were important. Growing up, I always wanted to be able to go to a good institution," said Kerfoot, who has a degree in economics from Harvard. "I looked at Harvard as more than just playing hockey."
Kerfoot comes from wealth. His father, Gregory, made a fortune in the computer software industry and is the majority owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer. One of the homes owned by Kerfoot's father is a 15,000-square foot mansion in Whistler, B.C., worth in the neighborhood of $15 million, which comes complete with an NHL-sized hockey rink on the property.
So, Kerfoot not only will hear the likely college boy jab, but a "rich kid" thing too. If so, so be it.
"That's just part of the game," he said.
Kerfoot, 23, could have signed with a few other NHL teams, including the New Jersey Devils team that drafted him 150th overall in 2012. When he couldn't come to an agreement on a contract with the Devils, however, he became an unrestricted free agent Aug. 15. Why the Avalanche?
"At the end of the day, it just came down to opportunity for me," Kerfoot said. "I wasn't really picky on location or anything like a hometown preference like Vancouver. I was trying to keep those extraneous variables out of the picture. It just came down to opportunity. When I spoke to (Joe) Sakic and other members of the organization, it seemed like they were kind of going through a rebuilding process and that there might be an opportunity to play in the near future there. So, I took that and I'm excited about it."
NOTEBOOK: Avalanche standout rookie Tyson Jost did not practice Sunday. The team, however, said there is nothing serious, calling his absence just a "maintenance day." Jost did take a couple of hard hits in the Saturday game against the Sharks, but never left the game because of injury. ... How did defenseman Chris Bigras, who assisted on two goals, assess his performance Saturday? "I think I've gained a little more confidence as my career has gone on. I know what to expect a little more, in the system and everything. It's just my goal here to come in and play confident, play to my strengths," he said. ... The Avs will play the prospects of the Arizona Coyotes Monday night at Shark Ice.