Saturday, October 8, 2011

Poison Pen: 2011-12 olorado Avalan he Q and A

Hey there, Avs fans! Yes, I promised this was going to be an AVS blog, not just another smartass cracking wise at the NHL's easiest targets (Reboundo Luongo, Don Cherry's suits, the irony of BRENDAN SHANAHAN being in charge of disciplining dirty players, etc). Sure, there will be liberal doses of potshots taken at a wide array of other players, officials, executives, organizations, and even bloggers; at the end of the day, however, we know what we're here for. With that in mind, I present to you my preview of OUR 2011-12  olorado Avalan he.  Let's start with a question from the audience:

"Uh, are you using Paul Sheldon's laptop? Where's the 'C's?"

Ah ha. See what I did there? Where's the "C", indeed.  Plenty of "A"s, you'll notice, and it's likely that's what coach Joe Sacco and GM Pierre Lacroix's Ego noticed as well. After all, how else to explain the Avs finding themselves with no captain to begin the season? The team announced they would begin the season with three alternate captains: stealthy vet Milan Hejduk, "future Maple Leaf" Paul Stastny, and Erik "Red Ass" Johnson, with the latter being announced as the third alternate yesterday afternoon. It doesn't do your heart very good to consider that the team's brass doesn't believe there's a player worthy of wearing (or willing to wear) the captain's badge, does it?

Another, over there, dabbing barbecue sauce from your mouth with your Peter Bondra jersey:

"How many points is Nail Yakupov going to throw up there next season with Alex Ovechkin on his line?"

Oooooo. SICK BURN, BRAH. The Caps, of course, traded their ECHL affiliate's backup, the fragile and unworthy Semyon Varlamov, to the Avalanche for the foregone rights to 2012 uberprospect Nail Yakupov, two dates with Mile High Megababe Robin Carlin, the rights to Peter Forsberg's next comeback, and a lifetime supply of Pez. Naturally, the consensus was that Pierre Lacroix's Ego was fleeced badly by wizard-like Caps GM George McPhee. Of course, we need to sit back and see if Varlamov (and UFA pickup JS Giguere) are able to stay healthy; if they are, then the Avs don't need to worry about losing a lottery pick to the Caps, because they will have replaced last year's goaltending buffet o' backups with a potential franchise goalie as well as a solid veteran backup with playoff experience, chops, and a ring with his name on it.

George McPhee, by the way, committed nearly $10 million in cap space to Brooks Laich, Joel Ward, and Troy Brouwer this past summer. We may want to hold off on anointing him the next Sam Pollock.

One last question from the crowd before I make my call on this season for our burgundy and, way in the back there, the little guy with the hopeful look in his eye:

"How's Dutchy gonna do?"

Glad you asked, kid. I hope Avs fans realize how lucky we are to have Matt Duchene to build this franchise around. This kid is bright, talented, and has a passion for the organization and for playing the game. Watching him grow into a leader for this team over the next few years is going to be a real treat. There are going to be less long nights this season than last, but there will be long nights. Those are the games to focus on Duchene, and appreciate watching him grow in front of our eyes. It's not all about the destination, folks. Enjoy the journey.

So, how are they gonna do? So many ifs: IF Varlamov can stay healthy, IF Erik Johnson's desire to prove the Avs right for taking a chance on him drives him to realize his potential, IF Gabriel Landeskog can contribute at this level at the tender age of 18, IF Peter Mueller's late-2010 performance wasn't a fluke...IF. I'll say this...

Two years ago, nobody expected the Avs to be competitive. On opening night, they played Western Conference contender San Jose, and retired the number of a legend: slick Canadian centerman Joe Sakic. That night, the boy who idolized Joe Sakic, a slick 18 year old Canadian centerman named Matt Duchene, made his debut in a 5-3 Avalanche win that propelled the team to a surprising playoff berth. Tonight, the Avs again face a Western Conference contender, Detroit. Tonight, the Avs retire the number of a legend: Swedish power forward Peter Forsberg. Tonight, the boy who idolized Peter Forsberg, 18 year old Swedish power forward Gabriel Landeskog, makes his debut.

Why not? 7th seed in the West. We'll see you tonight, Detroit. We'll see you in April, too.

Go Avs go.

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