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Fiddling While Denver Burns

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Wondering if Joe Sakic can do his job competently is a legitimate concern for Avs fans. He's the one ultimately responsible for what we must endure every night and there's no evidence that he has the mentality and vision to do what ultimately must be done. The next month is crucial to what this team looks like going forward, there are opportunities to improve the franchise greatly but there are many pitfalls and perhaps the greatest is inaction.

As optimistic as I'd like to be it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Joe chokes bigtime and gets nothing done in the next 4 weeks. Then news would trickle out about all the deals he could have made but didn't. The single most prominent characteristic of the organization since he took over would be risk-averse and that mindset is why the Avs are where they are currently. The preference of mediocre known quantities over possible upside is woven throughout the lineup and the development system.

It’s difficult to have confidence in a front office that doesn’t maximize the assets they already have on hand. If they do not use what they have prudently, there’s no reason not to be skeptical about what they will do with assets in transactions with other clubs. There isn’t a gaggle of future All-Stars festering in San Antonio but there are 8 or 9 players that at least have a chance of improving the parent club. Thanks to dead weight and the salary cap there haven’t been a lot of opportunities to use and evaluate what there might be in the development system, but there have been some and they weren’t taken advantage of. Look at any team in the league and they are constantly calling up youngsters and swapping them back and forth between the AHL/NHL. It’s how they get the experience necessary to become NHL players. The Avs never do this, choosing to let guys fester or maybe give them a token 1-game look at best. Lack of development becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. More inaction and risk-aversion.

Semyon Varlamov hasn’t played in almost a month and was called for season-ending surgery two weeks ago. He still is listed on the active roster for reasons no competent executive could explain. The Avs had an opportunity over the All-Star break to call up a bunch of players from San Antonio and use their salaries to maximize Long-Term Injured Reserve cap relief and create both space on the NHL roster and around $3.5M in cap space for possible trades or use in calling up prospects. Nothing was done and now with Tyson Barrie and Rene Bourque activated the opportunity is gone. It might seem like a subtle point but doing small moves like this is smart management. For a team that is the absolute nadir of the NHL taking advantage of every chance to gain an advantage would seem to be mandatory. Yet again, more inaction and risk-aversion.

The McLeod trade and claiming Matt Nieto were a promising start but other teams have been active in the past few weeks and there's been nothing from the Avs. They should be one of the most active teams right now making personnel moves and they're not. There was a flurry of trades yesterday that shuffled around AHL depth vets and prospects. As luck would have it, the Avs org has a few of those that could be shuffled too. Small moves, but moves that can give incremental gains.

The Avs front office has a lot on it’s to-do list, a lot of large things that need to be done but I hope that they aren’t losing sight of the small things that make organizations better. Coaches constantly talk about players that do the little things right, management needs to as well. If they constantly flail on details then the big picture won’t be pretty either.