The Avalanche stink because Peter Budaj is not an NHL caliber starting goalie.
If that's your opinion, please go back to watching internet porn. This column is not for you.
For those of you with a hockey IQ over 30 who realize there are a smorgasbord of shortcomings in the Avalanche organization, I'd recommend reading this during the 2nd or 3rd period of the next Avalanche game. Trust me, you're not going to miss anything.
The Avalanche are 19-18, making them the worst .500 team I have ever seen. Nobody skates, nobody plays offense, nobody plays defense, nobody hits. The veterans are playing like disinterested old men who should've hung up the skates decades ago. The younger players with alleged talent are too busy counting the bills of their new NHL sized checks to have any energy left to play hockey.
To the optimist, this team could turn it around through Our Lord, Peter Forsberg and make the playoffs... and maybe even win a round before being decimated by one of the powerhouse teams in the West.
To the pessimist, this team couldn't blow harder if Giguere brought in Dark Helmet and Mega Maid.
Realistically, this team has some potential but is caught in a black hole of awfulness that just seems to get bigger every game.
Since I want to be House when I grow up, I'm going to attempt to diagnose that which ails this terribly pathetic team starting with the biggest cancers and working my way down to the smallest pimples.
1. The General Manager.
Francois Giguere has mismanaged this team since day one. He fired a proven NHL coach last season and replaced him with an under qualified overachiever.
The reason he gave was that he wanted the Avalanche to play more up tempo hockey. Sounds great... except since then he made multiple personnel decisions displaying that he either changed his mind or isn't fit to run a high school team. He let Andrew Brunette go and didn't even extend him the courtesy of a phone call. Not only is he incapable, his mother apparently didn't teach him any manners.
After Bruno was gone, he looked at his lineup and loved what he saw. The only holes on the Avalanche roster in the eyes of its commander in chief were the need of an old, douchey veteran decades past his prime and a shaky-at-best discount goalie to back up Peter Budaj. No problem for Frankie G. Hello Douchey, I mean Darcy Tucker and Andrew Raycroft. Geez, those folks in Canada really don't know anything about hockey, buying out talent as awesome as this.
He didn't notice that the Avalanche have not one player in the system capable of a heavy slapshot. He grotesquely overvalued the franchises' abilities in the faceoff circle, on the penalty kill, and in the speed department.
If the Avalanche are going to become a franchise that anybody is going to pay money to see in the coming seasons, unless Peter Forsberg can play forever, Giguere needs to go.
2. Tony Granato
This guy was brought in because Q changed the goalies too much and management decided that they wanted a team to play a faster brand of hockey. The only problem with that was Granato already had been given the most talented offensive roster in franchise history and was knocked out of round one.
Under Granato, the Avalanche gave 110% and showed the were capable of playing the hockey that management so desperately wanted. For 3 games. Since then, the Avalanche typically skate hard for 1/3 to 1/2 of a game.
The Avalanche have no system whatsoever, except, "by all means, don't skate too hard out there and pull a groin."
Why won't the players skate for Granato? I don't know and neither does he apparantly, so he must be fired.
3. Lack of a defenseman with a canon or Ryan Smyth.
I love Ryan Smyth. In a season where the players' efforts have amounted to little more than horse dung, Smyth has played with passion night in and night out. However, Ryan Smyth is making a ton of money. He is most valuable in front of the net making deflections and creating havok while his defenseman launch bombs from the point. Without any players capable of complimenting Smitty from the blueline, the Avalanche are not getting the value out of what they are paying.
A guy that can shoot must be brought in or Ryan Smyth should be traded to address some of the Avalanche's shortcomings. No, this won't happen, but it should. Cap space is too valuable to waste and $7M a season for a player who puts up less than 60 points a season doesn't work.
If I were a betting man, and I am, I would wager that many will disagree with me on this. But, through my eyes, 7 million dollars can buy talent capable of putting up Marian Hossa level numbers. Ryan Smyth just isn't putting up those numbers right now and the lack of goals is really hurting this team.
4. Over-valuation of all in-house talent.
Wolski is awesome in shootouts, but only plays well about half the time. Many fans on MHH have a lot of faith in Wolski and I understand why. For me, I have no patience in any professional athlete who struggles to care on a regular basis.
Marek Svatos can finish, but can not be counted on to score or stay healthy. Svatos should be traded to any
sucker team that perceives him to have some value.
Cody McCormick plays okay, but is doesn't do anything as well as McLeod. I don't know why, but I like the kid. Still, he should be moved for picks or prospects if possible.
David Jones either looks great or awful, typically awful. He might be a 2nd liner someday, but not today.
T.J. Hensick see also, David Jones.
Avalanche management believed that these players are were capable of contributing this season. They aren't. It should be a hidden positive that these players, along with Stewart, Dupuis, etc. are getting quality NHL minutes due to injuries, but none of them are playing like they have a preference between Denver and Cleveland. All of them should be moved if the right opportunity presents itself. The right opportunity is for anything other than veterans.
5. Tyler Arnason
He's become the official whipping boy of virtually every Av fan with a keyboard. In reality, Tyler is not that bad. Having said that, he's not any good either.
Arnason needs to go because the Avalanche are showing serious personality issues and Tyler personifies every one of those. He can't win faceoffs. He refuses to skate for 60 minutes. He'll slap his grandmother before he finishes a check.
There are a ton of prospects playing in uniprons right now. It is horrifying to imagine the lessons they must be learning from watching the Avalanche's first line center night after night. Tyler needs to go, if for no other reason, to send a message to the team that playing games via absentee ballot are unacceptable.
When I started writing this, my intentions were to list 10 areas, but since the Avalanche won't put forth more than half an effort, why should I?
Special thanks to InYoFace for the best one-liner I've read in weeks.