The odds are good that the Colorado Avalanche will be bad this season.
In all honesty, unless there’s some kind of change at the top, this will continue to be norm.
On paper, this is a team that should be competing for a Wild Card spot every year. However, something isn’t clicking. Sure, the defense is a bit thin, the goaltending has “FRAGILE” stamped over it, and their once star player seems like he’s going to sabotage the team from within if he’s not traded soon.
This team reminds me of the 2000s Edmonton Oilers. Old players were brought back into prominent positions in the front office, but didn’t know what the hell they were doing. That’s the road that Joe Sakic is going down right now. He doesn’t know what to do with Matt Duchene (though he could have gotten him for Travis Hamonic if he asked nice enough), his hires are very interesting, and it just seems like the cardboard cut-out that was Greg Sherman could do just as good a job as Sakic is doing right now.
The young talent on this team is real up front. Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost are the next wave to help compliment Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. While it’s great to score goals, a problem is keeping them out. Like I said, very thin on the blue line and as of this point– only have four defensemen on their NHL roster under contract. As solid as Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov, and Mark Barberio could be…there seems to be a lot left to be desire. The outlook for the defense does look a little bright with Andrei Mironov and Nicolas Meloche coming into the fold– though you wonder if they’ll stand up or be in a holding pattern like Chris Bigras and Duncan Siemens have been in– which has been a couple years now.
However, the biggest issue is the amount of “glory days” Avalanche members in front office roles. Sakic is one of them, Patrick Roy was another before he left/forcibly resigned, and Craig Billington as the assistant GM, though he’s been in the organization for years now. When you look up and down the list– it’s amazing how many more of these guys are in the hockey ops side: Nolan Pratt (assistant coach, 2000-01), Brett Clark (player development consultant, 2003-09), and Brian Willsie (player development consultant, 1999-2003 and 2008-10). Adam Foote just left the organization in August, but it seems like he could have seen how downhill this team was going and wanted out.
This once great team is turning into a tire fire– if it’s not there already. One has to wonder how much longer the Kroenke family will allow this to go on. However, who knows how much the family is paying attention to the team with their other sporting interests they have to deal with. They should be paying attention and should be seeing that this is a team in need of a huge reboot. Get the nostalgia out of there, get some people who know what they’re doing in there, and fix this team that’s gone in such a tailspin that they may finish below the expansion team this year
Where are they going to get this new blood?? That’s a question for someone far smarter than me to address– but the loyalty needs to be thrown out the window if that’s the reason why Joe Sakic is still in his spot. Kroenke does owe something to Sakic for helping make Denver a true hockey town– but there comes a point where enough is enough and they need to do something to stay relevant in the hockey landscape rather than just be a laughingstock. You can’t look from within because there’s more of the same. The pickings could be slim outside because who knows how many people see the Avalanche as a desirable fit or just a dead destination. It’ll take a lot of convincing, money, and the idea they’ll get total control of their decisions to convince an assistant GM or someone like that to be the next GM of the Avalanche and really turn the ship around.
I’m sure there’s people out there willing enough to take on this task as a vanity project to show how smart they are, but at the same time– you have to hope they don’t get ahead of themselves to think it’ll be a quick fix. The roster may not need to be blown up, but it may need plenty of renovation to get it back to their glory they once had.