Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thank you, Joe.

Tonight is the night I have been dreading for 17 years now; the night that Joe Sakic is officially retired from the game of hockey as his glorious #19 is raised to the rafters of Pepsi Center. To be honest, I don't even know how to explain the rush of all kinds of emotions that I am feeling at this moment. I will be at Pepsi Center for the ceremony and game tonight, and will do my best to write up a more meaningful entry about Joe and all he has done for myself and the game of hockey very soon.

The only good thing about tonight is that hockey season is upon is!!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Avalanche Blogger Roundtable, Day 3

Welcome everyone to day three of the Avalanche Blogger Roundtable, hosted by our good friends over at Mile High Hockey. Visit their site to view the other questions answered by my fabulous fellow Avs bloggers and get up to date on all you'll need to know for the upcoming season. Today's questions have to do with the new (Super?) Joe with the very similar last name to our dear Mr. Sakic, and what should be expected from him this upcoming season.

Also, please head over to Avaholics Anonymous to check out more discussion on Coach Sacco.

If you could make one suggestion to Joe Sacco for his first season behind the bench in the Show, what would it be?

If I could make one suggestion to Coach Sacco for his first season coaching the Avalanche, it would be to continue the youth movement that he so very successfully began last season in Lake Erie. There is an abundance of young talent who he has already started the development process on and many more new-comers who he can groom to fit the style of play he envisions the team using. He also now has two young, top-notch centers in Stastny and Duchene who can serve as building blocks for the next 10+ years of success for this franchise, similar to the days in Quebec with young Sakic and Forsberg. Also, although many "experts" are completely writing off our Avs as the worst in the West, at the very least, Sacco needs to make sure our team is competitive in each and every game. There were far too many instances last year where you could just tell the team didn't care once they had a 1-0 lead, and quickly squandered it away, resulting in the franchise's worst season since moving to Colorado. Make this team tough to play against every game, and success will find it's way in.
-Me (An Avalanche Of Thoughts)

Don't let up. Sacco has a young team without an identity that he will have to mold in the way he wants. However, he cannot let up from what he wants to do. He's a guy that always preaches hard work and 100% effort and if or when the guys like Wolski, Tucker, Svatos, etc stop working, can he crack the whip to them? Can he get them to work in a way neither Quenneville nor Granato could? If he does that, regardless of the record, he'll be a winner.
-Aaron (Hockey Buzz)

Have a fucking game plan. We never really knew what sort of team Tony Granato was aiming for. I think it was supposed to be uptempo, but I'm not sure anyone got that memo (including the former GM, who loaded up on slow-footed grinders). This team needs an identity - a readily apparent style.
-DDC (Mile High Hockey)

What he said. Find an identity and actually build a team to fit that mold. Or go the other way and find a system that works for the pieces that you have and THEN LET THEM PLAY THAT STYLE. Why have a Ryan Smith on the team if he's gonna camp out behind the net? Why field an uptempo defense when you have nobody on the wing who can win puck battles and support the rush?
-Mike (Mile High Hockey)

Please, please, for the love of God Joe, let the forwards develop chemistry and give them a system to play in. Both Granato and Quenneville were schizophrenic about their lines and I firmly believe it really hampered our offensive chemistry. Quenneville refused to play any sort of offense expect what started behind the goal, and Granato didn't even HAVE a system. What this young team needs is stable lines and clear roles within an adaptable system. Wolski is begging you with these eyes:

And don't play Svatos on a checking line, seriously. Can we at least give him a chance to succeed?
-Matt (Mile High Mayhem)

My suggestion for Sacco - Don't let the soft style of Granato linger and don't let your green status allow players to walk all over you. This team has a lot of challenges up ahead and only a tough as nails coach that commands respect is going to get them there.
-Grant (Hockeyism)

The thing that I felt has been missing with this team for a few seasons now is an identity for giving an honest effort every single night. Sure the Captain's gone, and the team is young, and insert more excuses here if you'd like, but I'm hoping Joe Sacco can create an identity for this team so they're known for that. I'm just hoping that the opposition and the fan base of the Avs will know what they're getting every night. It's just been tough to watch on television and show up and never know what you'll get each night. A hard-nosed honest effort night in and night out is always a pleasure to watch, win or lose. I hope Sacco can get this out of his new team so it's always worth the time we take to watch the games. My suggestion: create that identity.
-Jay (The Avs Hockey Podcast)

And there you have it, folks. Many honest answers on what we think Coach Sacco will need to do to succeed in his first year behind the bench. Thanks again to the guys at Mile High Hockey for putting this whole thing together. Enjoy the season!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Draft Preview

I'm headint to the beach now for a little pre-draft fun in the sun, but I think I speak for most of Avalanche nation with this message to Sherman..

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't screw up this Duchene pick.

More to come later..

Thursday, June 11, 2009

So long, Lappy

According to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post, Lappy is as good as gone to us as Avs fans. The article, found here, states that the Avs management and Lappy's agent are far too far apart on agreeing to terms on a new deal and are unlikely to find a common ground before he is set to become a free agent on July 1st. If this is all true, this is a sad, sad day for the Colorado Avalanche organization and it's fans. Lappy was the heart and soul of this franchise for his entire tenure with the team, and something like that will not be easy to replace. Fans will remember him not only for his commitment and dedication to the game on the ice, but also for his love for the community of Denver as well. We will miss you Lappy and wish you all the best in the future. Since we have no Cup dreams for years to come, go out and win one on your own and make us proud.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Season reflections.

Today marks the one week anniversary of the end of the most unbearable, miserable, downright difficult to watch season in Colorado Avalanche history (years in Quebec not withstanding). I was lucky enough (or unlucky, based on the performances I witnessed) to attend the final three home games of the season at good ol' Pepsi Center. The Avs got two of a possible six points in those three games, but managed to be shutout in the final two. In all, I was able to be at seven regular season games, and one pre-season game, with the Avs record being 2-4-2 overall (one of the wins, being pre-season, and the only other win coming at Staples Center here in LA). Should I ever return to Pepsi Center after seeing the team get a total of two points in the six games I attended? I'd like to say that I wouldn't, but I don't know what could really keep me away from there in the future.

On the Avs message board, there was a thread where people listed the "Avs Awards" for the 2008-2009 season. Here's a quick rundown of my picks..

Best forward: Milan Hejduk, Ryan Smyth
For the most part, these two came to play every night, which is more than can be said for a good part of the roster this season. If the whole team had stayed healthy, I'm sure these two would've been able to put up more than a team-leading 59 pts a piece this season. The bright spot for these two this season was scoring their 300th career goals on the same night back in January.
Best D-man: John-Michael Liles
Though we saw 13 different players suit up on the blue-line this season, I feel Liles was the most consistent D-man the Avs had during the season. In the past, he was known more for his offense than his defensive play, but he really picked it up this season and was a physical presence in the corners and behind the net, which was never one of his strong suits. While improving defensively, he also managed to bring his point total up to 39 from 32 last season, playing in seven less games in the process (including six more goals).
Best goalie: Peter Budaj
This is a tough one, as I don't feel either goalie had a great season. This was Peter's year, once again, to prove himself as the #1 goalie on the Avs, but he just couldn't find the consistency in his game to secure that spot for himself. As with the past couple years under Quenneville's reign, the two goalies were interchanged on a near game-by-game basis, which must make it really tough on a goalie's confidence and psyche to keep their play at a high level night in, night out. Though he had some extremely rough streaks during the season, Budaj also had some flashes of brilliance that we've seen from him in the past, including a hot streak to end the season giving up just five goals in his last four games (including three overtime periods). While I don't feel that he is the long-term answer for the team in net, I'd like to see him back on the roster next year behind a veteran that the team brings in. When he's on his game, he's nearly unbeatable.
Biggest surprise: Cody McLeod
What a season by Cody McLeod! Dubbed by some as a life-long AHL'er, he came out this year and had an absolutely spectacular season for someone known more for his big hits than his knack for finding the back of the net. Before the season, who would've thought that Cody would find himself in third place in goals scored on the Avs? Though injuries depleted the rest of the team's top-line forwards, there's no denying that Cody had one hell of a season scoring 15 goals and five assists (up from 4g5a last season), while dropping the mitts 10 times this season. He is currently un-signed, and I think it would be a Bruno-esque blunder to not bring him back next season.
Biggest disappointment: Darcy Tucker
What really needs to be said about this guy? He was bought out by Toronto, and then signed by the Avs to a 2yr/$4.5mil contract. For that kind of money, you expect to get someone who cares about the team and attempts to help the team on the ice. But not this guy. For seven straight years, he put up a more than respectable average of 43 pts per season, which is on the top end of the list of the mucker-and-grinder type player that Darcy is known as. So after scoring a big contract this season, you would think he would come out with the fire and passion that he was known for during his time with the Leafs, right? Not this guy. Darcy put up a miserable eight goals and eight assists this season, and at times couldn't even stand up on his own two skates. He is worth about half of the contract, if that, that Giguere gave him last summer, and one can only hope that he will become the first player in NHL history to be bought out in two straight seasons, as he is not needed on this team going forward.
Best leader: Ian Lapperiere
Once again, what really needs to be said about our beloved Lappy? Heart, determination, passion, and any synonym of those words could be used to describe him. He's one of the few in the entire NHL who never takes a shift off and sacrifices his body, no matter what the situation or cost. He is also currently un-signed, and losing him this season would be far worse than what happened when the team let Bruno walk to a division rival last summer. Lappy is the kind of player that nearly every team in the NHL would be interested in signing, and it would be absolutely horrific to see him finish out his career anywhere else.
Best rookie: Chris Stewart
Prior to this season, a lot of bad things have been said about Chris since he had been drafted 18th overall by the Avs in 2006. He was supposedly known for laziness on the ice and a lack of work ethic and drive to improve off the ice, and thankfully he proved everyone wrong this year as being the complete opposite of that after being called up in December. He totalled 11 goals and eight assists in his first year in the NHL, and had eight fights to go with those production numbers. I see a very bright future for Chris. If not a top-six forward, he would definitely make a great third-line right wing who not only has the skills to put the puck in the net, but has a very physical aspect to his game as well.
Best Av for 08-09: Cody McLeod
This is a tough one, as I feel that anyone listed above (save for Budaj and Tucker) could be the winner of this award. In the end, I have to go with Cody McLeod, as no one expected the kind of play that he gave the team this season. Congrats Cody, I've been calling you the MVP since day one, and you really lived up to all the hype and praise I had given you early this season.

What's next, you ask? Who knows. Last Monday, Francois Giguere was "relieved of his duties" by former GM Pierre Lacroix. This is the first step in what might be a long re-building process over the next few years, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. Who will succeed Giguere is unknown at the moment, but he will need to do a lot to bring this team back from the trenches. The team holds the third overall pick in the upcoming 2009 entry draft, and is most likely looking at C Matt Duchene, who grew up following the Avs. Also, waiting in the wings is Ryan Stoa, who is projected to make the roster as well this coming season. On a third happy note, we have most likely seen the last of Tyler Arnason in the burgandy and blue. REJOICE!!!

To those of you Avs fans who struggled to watch but stood by the team through all 82 games of this dismal season, I salute you, as this is the type of season that thins out the bandwagoners from the tried and true fans. As far as I see it, things can only go up from here, as in all honesty they can't get much worse.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sakic's return?

Today, our own Super Joe spoke with the media about his possible return this season. While he didn't necessarily say one way or another if it's going to happen, he certainly left the door open and said that he's getting better every day.

Tonight, the Avs will see yet another defenseman make his NHL debut. Ray Macias will be in the lineup tonight for the injured Brett Clark. I will be rooting like crazy for Ray, as he is from Long Beach, CA, which pretty much makes him a hometown boy for me ('hometown' being in the vicinity of Los Angeles). Make California proud, Ray

Friday, March 27, 2009

TJ Galiardi!

I want to offer a huge congratulations to TJ Galiardi for scoring his first ever NHL goal tonight on a beautiful shot on an even better feed from Lappy. Keep it up TJ!

Stoa signing

The Avs have signed Minnesota Golden Gophers captain, Ryan Stoa, to an entry-level NHL deal. I'm not sure if this means we'll see him this year since the games are seemingly meaningless at this point, or if they'll ship him off to the Monsters to see how he fits in there. Either way, welcome to the big leagues Ryan!

Also, Monsters defensemen Wes O'Neill, has been called up to the Avs and will make his NHL debut tonight, filling in for the injured Ruslan Salei. Good luck, Wes.

Edit, Dater is reporting that he will not join the Avs this season, but will be with the team at training camp this fall, and is expected to make the team as a second or third line center. Goodbye Arnason, Hellooooooooooo Nurse (Stoa)!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A few quick hits..

-Stastny is out 2-4 weeks (read: the rest of the season) with a broken bone in his foot, coming off a shot block. Both of his extended injuries this year have resulted from blocking shots, and as soon as each one happened I turned to my dad and exclaimed "great, he's hurt again", and sure enough, he's been out of the game for weeks or more after both injuries. To fill the void in his absence, the team has re-called Matt Hendricks from the Monsters. I see a lot of potential in him and while I hate seeing Stazz injured, I'd like to see Hendy get the chance to show what he can do now that the season is officially "lost".

-Milan Hejduk, the man who once claimed that he wished to retire after his contract ends following the 2009-2010 season, has now said that he wants to stay with the team for a few more years. FG, MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

-TG has seemingly ripped into the Baron's play of recently. Sure his numbers haven't been what they were earlier in the year, but look at the talent (or lack there of) around him. With a fully healthy team and line-mates, Wolski should thrive again at center.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Roy behind the Avs bench?

Brian Thompson, Colorado Avalanhhe Examiner, linked me to this article, which a lot of you may (should) be interested in. Could we really see Patrick back in Denver? Fingers crossed.