||5 MT / 7 ET / 12 GMT
|24-14-6||January 7th, 2010
|52 pts||RBC Center
7th in West
15th in East
Pop quiz: What do Chris Stewart, TJ Galiardi, Matt Hendricks and Ryan Wilson have in common? If you said they were all Avalanche players having breakout seasons, you'd be right...but I'm looking for something else here.
The answer? All four players were acquired by former Avalanche GM Francois Giguere. As you may recall, Giguere was run out of town as soon as last season, months before the rest of the team's front office was shaken up. The underlying message was that he was the most culpable for the Avs' terrible 2008-2009 season, an opinion I definitely did not (and do not) share.
9 months after Giguere's firing, the team is greatly improved and part of that is due to the dividends of his work paying off. New GM Greg Sherman has certainly improved the talent base by drafting Matt Duchene and Radar O'Reilly and acquiring Craig Anderson and Kyle Quincey, but those changes are far from a complete housecleaning. The 2009-2010 Colorado Avalanche are gosh darn similar to the 2008-2009 Colorado Avalanche in personnel. It's just that this year's version isn't completely inept. That's not because we changed the GM...it's because we changed the coach. Yep, he hired that coach (allegedly), but that might be his biggest blemish and one that could have been corrected without terminating him,
I'm not ready to nominate Giguere for GM of the year or anything, but I do feel his contributions as one of the architects of this club have been overlooked a bit. He shouldered too much of the blame for the Avs' disaster of a season last year. Now that the Avalanche have turned it around (well, in most people's eyes), I think it's only fair that Giguere share some of the credit for that success. Some of his players - along with those acquired by Pierre Lacroix and Greg Sherman - are kicking some serious ass this year.
For kicks, here's a list of which current Avs each of Colorado's three GMs have acquired. This list is of the the 31 Avalanche who have played in a game for the Avs this year (sorry Weiman, Peltier and Fahey). I don't count re-signing as being acquired - it's when they were first acquired (or re-acquired) by the Avalanche that matters for this list. And yeah, I know, Darcy Tucker...
One final thing. I think these lists are really interesting, especially in the way it seems to show a definite "style" of player each GM prefers. Giguere's list features a ton of toughness (Ryan Smyth was another of his acquisitions) while Lacroix's and Sherman's are weighted much more heavily towards speed and skill. Not sure that warrants more comment than that, but it definitely grabbed my attention.
Oh, and I guess there's a hockey game tonight. The Avalanche are playing the worst team in the league. The 'Canes are also the lowest scoring team in the NHL and tonight's game is the first game of a set of back-to-back road games. Saturday's game is in Buffalo, 700+ miles away, against one of the best teams in the league. If Peter Budaj doesn't start tonight's game, I am going to have a Tyler Arnason face like you wouldn't believe. And if the Avs don't win? Guh.
Avalanche vs Hurricanes coverage
EDIT: Derek Peltier has been recalled by the Avalanche. Brett Clark and Marek Svatos have both been placed on the IR (Clark retro to January 3rd, Svatos to December 30th).