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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sad Day in Avalanche Fandom

After last night's shellacking, there are a lot of sad and angry people in the Avalanche fandom. Can you be sad and angry at the same time? You bet. Hell, I'm sad, angry, embarrassed and a little thirsty, all at the same time.

Over at MHH, Joe and Mike have weighed in on who should stay and who should go. Some interesting lists for sure. It appears that most fans have decided that it's time for the Avalanche to becoming sellers and declare this season's Stanley Cup dreams as nothing more than high fantasy. But will the organization see it the same way?

The Avalanche are currently in 10th place in the Northwest but a win against Detroit last night would have catapulted them into 7th. So the playoffs are still within view even though the horizon is stretching farther away. At the moment, the Avalanche have a 40% shot of making the playoffs. And don't forget the most important part, every significant percentage point left to be gained rests at the hands of the Avalanche, not at their opponents. So the old cliche of "They hold their destiny in their hands" is as apt as it ever will be.

The only trouble with the idea of gutting it out and fighting for a playoff spot with the belief that "this squad can do it!" is that it reminds me a lot of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are a team that has been mired in mediocrity for many seasons and the main reason - I think - is that the organization defines success simply as making the playoffs. In other words, selling more tickets, beer and hot dogs. So if there is an outside shot at getting into the playoffs, the Leafs won't bother selling any significant assets to build for the future.

This makes them a perpetual bubble team as they just replace a few spare parts here and there for a playoff run rather than rebuilding their roster for a Cup run down the line and I fear the same is happening with the Avalanche. Of course it's only been one year that the Avalanche have missed the playoffs and they've got 2 Stanley Cups in the past 12 years to go along with that so they're a long way from becoming like the Leafs. But the warning signs are popping up.

Francois Giguere needs to make a long-term decision very quickly and I think the right choice is to sell a few assets with an eye for the future. I don't want him to gut the team but there are some expendable players (Brunette, Arnason, Skrastins, Theodore) who could bring some returns if packaged together with some other players (Liles, Svatos, Clark, Budaj) and prospects (Williams, Stoa, Galiardi). And of course my feelings on the coaching staff have been made clear. If changes don't happen there, the roster changes are a moot point.

And don't forget, becoming a seller doesn't immediately count a team out of the playoff hunt. We witnessed what a squad absent their three top dogs and filled with minor leaguers could do and it made us proud.

And frankly that's all I want from this team. The feeling of pride from being a fan of the Avalanche.

3 Comments:

Tyler said...

Shane,
I think you pose a great point. Al we want as hockey fans is not to have our favorite team sell us out!
Keep up the great work!
-Tyler
NHL Digest

ELPOU said...

Hi!
as much as I love the Av's, I think they are done for the year. They need a major shakeup. Coaching changes, big trades, I don't care but FG need to do something to lit a fire under their asses. Sure it will helps when Stastny and Sakic come back, but I don't think it will be enough to put the Av's back in the playoff picture. The only bright spot if the Av's miss the playoffs, being from Quebec City, I may be able to see a couple of Avs players in the 2008 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. I even got my Canada jersey ready ! Please forgive my english, it may not be perfect.

Shane Giroux said...

Thanks, Tyler!

elpou, no worries on the English, I was able to understand just fine :)

I'm still not counting the Avalanche out yet since statistically it's still very possible for them to make the playoffs.

The only problem I have with them making the playoffs is that it could lead the management to go "Hey, we made the playoffs with lots of injuries so no need to make changes"

It's very apparent this team needs change and it definitely starts with the coaching staff. The players alone can't be blamed for a poor effort, especially when the game plan is flawed.

And I'm officially jealous of you being able to catch the World Championship games in your home town :)

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