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There is a hint of his father's square chin and blocky features in Paul Stastny's face - and they share the same eyebrows and cheekbones as well. But the real similarities between pere and fils are mostly evident on the ice, not in the dressing room.

As a player, Hall of Famer Peter Stastny was a strong, physical presence, a highly skilled athlete with excellent hockey sense.

Colorado Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville played against Peter Stastny, mostly during his Hartford Whalers' days, and now coaches Paul.

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"I helped put Peter in the Hall Of Fame," said Quenneville, with a laugh, "and there are probably a few other guys who would tell you the same thing.

"Paul reminds me a lot of his dad. He's got the pedigree and plays in a similar way. His play-making ability, his vision on the ice, the ability to come up with loose pucks - the puck just seems to follow him around. But his play without the puck is the part that we enjoy. For a young kid, to have that hockey sense, is unusual. That's why we use him to kill penalties, play four-on-four. You're comfortable in matchups with him. He's going to be a nice player."

Paul Stastny is making a name for himself this season, as a National Hockey League rookie. With Pierre Turgeon on the shelf recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and the Avalanche working with a de facto $39-million (all figures U.S.)salary cap (thanks to bonus payments owed to Joe Sakic and Rob Blake from pre-lockout contracts), there were jobs open in Colorado training camp this year, on what used to be a set roster.

Two rookies took advantage - Stastny and Wojtek Wolski - and both have had an impact on the Avalanche through the first quarter of the season. Stastny is No. 3 in NHL rookie scoring behind the Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin and the Los Angeles Kings' Anze Kopitar and the feeling is he's just going to get better as the season moves along.

Stastny is playing behind Sakic as the team's No. 2 centre and there is symmetry in that development as well. Sakic broke in as an NHL rookie when Peter Stastny was firmly established as a star. They played together for three seasons on the Quebec Nordiques before Peter moved on to join the New Jersey Devils. Now, some 15 years later, Sakic is left to mentor the son in the same way that he had been mentored by father.

"He's got the hockey 'it,' " said Sakic, of Paul Stastny. "He's always in the right spot on the ice. Watch him play, he's real smart. He knows exactly where to be and what's going to happen. There are not a lot of kids that can do that.

"He obviously inherited that from his dad - because his dad had the same things."

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There is sometimes a burden attached to being the son of a famous hockey-playing father, although many can overcome it and forge successful careers in their own rights. Brett Hull and Mark Howe immediately come to mind - and more are coming every year. In the 2003 draft, there were a trio of first-round draft choices (Robert Nilsson, son of Kent; Jeff Tambellini, son of Steve; and Patrick Eaves, son of Mike) all of whom had well-known hockey-playing dads.

The younger Stastny sees it as an advantage, not a disadvantage.

"It's like a dream come true," he said, of making the rounds of the NHL bearing a famous name. "It's an honour having that name."

Earlier this season, Avalanche defenceman Jon Michael Liles gave up his sweater, No. 26, so that Paul Stastny could wear his father's old number.

Peter Stastny broke into the NHL in the 1980-81 season and recorded the second-highest rookie point total in history (109). Only Teemu Selanne, at 132, was higher. But that was a little deceptive because Peter was a 26-year-old who defected from Czechoslovakia along with his brother Anton in order to play in the NHL. Paul Stastny was born in Quebec City two days after Christmas, 1985, grew up in St. Louis, and played a year of junior for the River City (Omaha) Lancers of the United States Hockey League before joining the University of Denver for two seasons.

His older brother, Yan, plays in the Boston Bruins system, although he's been shuttled back and forth between the minors for much of the year. Coincidentally, both Stastny brothers scored their first NHL goals in the 2006 calendar year in the same place - Montreal - against the same goaltender, David Aebischer. Yan managed it back in March; Paul did it in October, during Colorado's swing through Eastern Canada.

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So far, the transition from college to the NHL has gone rather smoothly.

"I don't think there have been any major surprises," said Stastny. "I'd heard from so many people who watched the game up close, so I knew what to expect. I came in there and I was ready for everything that came at me and I think I adjusted pretty well."

For that, he can thank, in part, his background and his pedigree.

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