Funny, isn't it. After a summer-long dry spell in the Avalanche news department, today marked a Theo Fleury of Avalanche news. Here's a run down.
First and foremost, Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke received approval by the NFL to complete his purchase of the St Louis Rams for a reported $750 million (or, as I like to put it, 7.5 Kovalchuks). The catch? Due to the NFL's cross-owernship rules, Kroenke will have to hand over financial and operational control of the Avalanche and Nuggets to his son Josh by this December and give up his majority ownership in both clubs by 2014. Josh currently has a very hands-on role with the Nuggets (perhaps, according to some, far too hands-on), but isn't believed to be very involved with the Avalanche. How will this transfer change the way the Avalanche are run? It's hard to say, but I do find it ironic that St Louis Rams fans are welcoming the elder Kroenke and the potential stability he will bring to the franchise. Must be nice.
So while St Louis enters into sunshine and rainbow territory, the Avalanche front office continues to embrace the rebuild. Today, the Vancouver Canucks signed forward Raffi Torres to a 1-year deal. Torres, of course, is far too expensive for the Avalanche. However, his $1-million price tag was just right for a team that is now about $3.5 million over the cap. In other news, the Los Angeles Kings signed Willie Mitchell to a 2-year deal worth $3.5 million per year. The Kings, like the Avalanche, are in the midst of a major rebuild and, like the Avalanche, are very concerned with making sure they can retain their young nucleus down the road. Unlike the Avalanche, however, the Kings have found a way to work in deals for useful veterans like Mitchell, Alex Ponikarovsky and former Avalanche Ryan Smyth. Oh, and they even made a legitimate run at Ilya Kovalchuk. Go figure.
While I may not sound all that optimistic about the Avs' chances this year, TV execs are clearly impressed. The NHL's television schedule was announced today and the Avalanche will appear 14 times on nationally broadcast games - 5 times on Versus, twice on CBC and 7 times on TSN or RDS in Canada. Last year, the Avalanche had just 8 national games...less if you count the games that the jerkwads at Versus and DirecTV took away (yes, still bitter).
In other scheduling news, the Lake Erie Monsters' schedule has been released. While I yet again will not have a chance to see the Monsters in my neck of the woods, fans in Syracuse, Oklahoma City, Austin, Houston, Toronto, Grand Rapids, Chicago, Rockford, Abbotsford, Milwaukee, Peoria, Hamilton, Hershey, Winnipeg and Rochester will have a chance to see their favorite future Avs in person.
Finally, the Avalanche have released their jersey number assignments for the upcoming season. While there were a slew of changes last year, this year there are just 4 changes. Brandon Yip will trade in his #59 for the #18 he wore at BU; it's a big sweater to fill, having been previously worn by Adam Deadmarsh, Alex Tanguay and Chris Drury. Let the trade rumors begin! Meanwhile, Kevin Porter will switch from #32 to #12, Justin Mercier will move from #43 to Darcy Tucker's #16 and Ray Macias will don my favorite number: 42.
Other noteworthy number assignments: Daniel Winnick will retain the #34 he wore with the Coyotes, Jonas Holos will wear the #6 he wore in the Olympics, Kevin Shattenkirk will wear Wojtek Wolski's old #8 while his former BU teammate will wear the #36 last worn by Steve Moore. Joey Hishon will wear #38...for now, at least.
The numbers for several unsigned Avs' have been given to new players, essentially confirming our assumption that these players will not be back. In addition to Tucker's #16 being given out, Marek Svatos' #40 has been claimed by Mark Olver. Sadly, Matt Hendrick's #15 has been assigned (to Zach Cohen), effectively eliminating hopes that the exuberant forward would return. And that #18 that Yip has taken belonged last year to Stephane Yelle. Again, we didn't think Yelle would return, but this all but seals it.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast of "Sleeping Through the Offseason" starring...us.