Confusing title, since he has more than earned his nickname "Silent Stan," so "shutting up" wouldn't really mean a damn thing. But it's a cool idiom. So there. Now, where to begin with this? How about after the jump?
I was at the Canuck game in sweet seats that my brother obtained, 2 rows behind the Avalanche bench. Now, these seats are both good and bad. Good, because you're 2 rows behind the Avs bench. Bad because you spend a great deal of time trying to see plays around 5 coaches standing directly in your vision path to the ice. So you end up trying to watch big chunks of the action on the jumbotron. Which makes you realize even more how fucking awful that jumbotron is. Seriously, once you figure out which one of those hundreds of large darkened burnt out pixels is actually the puck, you still can't make out who is who or generally wtf is going on during the play.
But this post isn't about the jumbotron. No, the jumbotron is just a very visual symbol of how Enos and KSE have neglected his entire Denver sports empire over the past several years, especially our beloved Avs. What follows is a rant induced by the team most likely now missing the playoffs in 3 of the last 4 years, while at the same time dry humping the NHL's salary floor, and also spending little to no noticeable effort on improving anything else about "the Avalanche Experience." Here is what Enos and Son must do to keep my business as a long-time season ticket holder, and I would recommend that other season ticket holders follow suit. No more free passes for catch phrases like "building from within."
1. Spend money on player payroll. No team in the NHL has more salary flexibility going into next season than the Avs. And unlike many Enos apologists have proclaimed, both the salary cap and floor are likely going up for next season. Per an article that Cheryl linked to yesterday, the salary floor could be between 53 and 56M, and the cap could be between 69 and 72M. I, for one, am sick to death of humping the salary floor and getting what we pay for. But I'm a reasonable fan (shut up Dan), so I'll cut Enos some slack. All I'm asking is to rise up to some level above the floor. So let's see what we could do with a budget of $64M for player payroll:
Centers: Stastny 6.6M, O'Reilly (RFA) 3.5M, Duchene (RFA) 3.5M, McClement (UFA) 1.8M Total: 15.4M
Left Wings: Parise (UFA) 7.0M, Landeskog 3.6M, McGinn (RFA) 2.0M, Mueller (RFA) 1.5M, Kobasew 1.3M Total: 15.4M
Right Wings: Jones (UFA) 2.5M, Downie (RFA) 2.5M, Olver (RFA) 0.8M, McLeod (UFA) 1.0M, Malone 0.8M Total: 7.6M
Defensemen: Suter (UFA) 7.0M, Hejda 3.3M, ROB 1.8M, EJ (RFA) 4.0M, Wilson (RFA) 2.0M, Hunwick (UFA) 1.5M, Elliot 0.9M, Barrie 0.8M Total 21.3M
Goaltenders: Varly 2.8M, Giggy 1.3M Total: 4.1M
Looking up above, I can see that we look remarkably weak on right wing, and remarkably strong at center and at left wing. So some juggling would certainly occur. But overall, this group of forwards, with the injection of real talent in Parise along with hopefully the continued growth of Landy, Duchene and McGinn, would finally bring us up to a competitive level. But the big message here is this; we have more money than every other NHL team to make a big splash in free agency, we have young players who are growing but need something to push their development along, now is absolutely the time to make that big splash. Signing both Parise and Suter would be a message to the fan base that the last 4 years of mostly pain have not been a waste of time. And that yes, c6, there was a plan and ownership does actually still care.
Total Payroll for 24 players: 63.7M
Competing for the Cup Again Someday: Priceless
2. Otherwise improve the in-game experience. Yes, we lost Lauren. And that sucked. But at the very least, please upgrade the jumbotron and the Pepsi Center sound system, and come up with more clever and entertaining things for both in-game commercial breaks and for between periods. The overall "experience" at the Can is stale. Incredibly stale. We're talking jump rope competitions between two random fans stale. Guess the price of the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese stale. Or match the two giant cards at center ice stale. It's not creative. It's not entertaining. It's stale.
3. Improve the Altitude broadcasts, both in-game and in the studio. I don't know how many times this season I've been to a game and wondered "what just happened there?", only to go home and watch the Altitude broadcast to not have my questions answered. Their broadcast has gotten progressively worse over the years, and this year has been dreadful. Poor camera work. Replays often lacking on critical plays. And the broadcast team frequently not noticing or at least not mentioning in-game anomalies of interest (so, Duchene didn't play in the 3rd period the other night, eh Sunshine and Rainbow?). And the between period and after game studio shows? Other than Rycroft, who is brilliant, they are dreadful. Mostly a parade of commercial breaks with bits and pieces of fluff here and there. Give Rycroft a larger role. Sign on some producers and camera men with NHL experience in Canada, where they really do care. And upgrade the broadcast signficantly.
4. Once everything else is in place, please, market this team creatively. We've gone from "Random hockey term, random hockey term, random hockey term .... The Avalanche Experience!," to "It's All About the A," to "Worn with Pride." From lame, to meh, to only slightly less meh. I'm not a marketing expert. But I can tell you that I've seen ads from other teams, such as Boston's abusive bear ads, that make me laugh. Hire a new marketing team. That doesn't suck.
I think I could go on. But this is probably a good high level start. Some of you may not agree with my estimated salary figures above, or may see Avageddon down the road as a result of signing two big name UFAs, so please do share. I'm just sick of losing and watching a piss poor production of said losing.