You may think winning would be a good thing for the Colorado Avalanche at this point in the season. They’re 15 points worse than the second-worst team in the league, they are ensured the best odds in the lottery, and they are on pace to be the worst team in the shootout era. Why not win some games down the stretch, mess up the playoff picture, and give the fans something to cheer about?
Because winning would just complicate things for Avalanche management.
Putting together a strong stretch in the final 15 games could make management rethink the entire offseason. The offseason game plan seems simple from the couch. Somehow get rid of the veterans and under-performers that aren’t unrestricted free agents, don’t re-sign the veterans and under-performers that are unrestricted free agents, figure out the goaltending situation, and decide whether to trade or keep Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. Basically, blow up the core or finally build around them with the proper complimentary players.
Right now, this team is bad. And that’s a huge understatement. There are a lot of issues that one offseason isn’t going to solve. But progress can be made starting in June if Joe Sakic and company have a plan.
Winning may complicate that plan. Sports are a “what have you done for me lately?” beast. If by some miracle the Avalanche finished the season 11-4, maybe management begins to re-think what’s going on. Maybe they feel that Calvin Pickard is a #1 goalie, that Jared Bednar’s system does work, that they just needed to add a little more speed, that they are one top four defenseman away from contending, that they did enough at the deadline, and that winning instilled a confidence that can carry over into next season.
A hot stretch to end the season doesn’t erase a season long comedy of errors. The additions of J.T. Compher and Sven Andrighetto and the return of Erik Johnson don't make up for how lifeless this team has played since November. In fact, it just highlights it even more.
I hope Avs management aren’t this naive, but pardon me for not having the most trust in the front office right now. This is the same front office that believed the team was one piece away following the 2014 season, not seeing the obvious flaws or the bigger picture. Feeling that this group could be lured into a false sense of standing isn’t unreasonable given their history.
They say that "winning cures all," but when you're on your deathbed and given five minutes to live, a million dollars that you can only spend on yourself isn't all that comforting. By the time you figure out what you want, you're already talking to God.
Winning cures nothing for the Avalanche. It just adds to the frustration of how inept they've been all season. If they somehow win now, with 15 games left and nothing to play for but pride, why couldn't they win when the games mattered? Playing for pride is pleasant, but playing for playoffs is profitable.
I’m not condoning tanking. Tanking implies that the team is willfully trying to be the worst team possible in order to secure the best pick. This team is already there. Continuing to lose isn’t tanking, it’s simply the state of the organization.
Asking for effort at this point is futile. Guys on the team can claim they care all they want, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find many fans that agree. Sure, some players are still playing with a level of passion that a professional should exhibit in all 82-games, but the majority of them packed it in a long time ago. It’s too late to save those guys. I don’t want winning to save those guys. They don’t deserve to be saved.
The Avs have a chance to be the worst team in the modern era. May as well be the absolute best at losing and do something memorable. It’ll make the comeback, whenever that may be, that much sweeter.