Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Colorado Avalanche Offseason Game Plan

I hope to get around to doing one myself at some point, but for now I'll cop out and just link to Scott Cullen's Avalanche game plan for the offseason.

I haven't even read it myself. That's how busy I've been today. Or how lazy I've been. I'll leave that for you to decide.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tavares Drops to #3

The thought of drafting Matt Duchene has had Avalanche fans mildly giddy. Sure, after the season we endured you could argue that we'd be giddy over a kick in the crotch.

But no so fast, Avs fans. John Tavares has been tankin' it up in the playoffs while Matt Duchene has been tearing it up. And now one independent scouting service, Redline Report, has Tavares dropping to #3, behind Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene.

I'd take Duchene over Tavares but I'm hoping Islander and Lightning scouts have already made up their minds.

Thanks to Sean Leahy for the tip via Twitter.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Not that far outside...

The weekend was shaping up nicely. Eric Lacroix is not up for the Avs GM job, UFC 97 is on tomorrow night, I caught I Love You, Man which was hilarious and I felt pretty damn good. Then Dater came up with this ditty.

I nearly lost my head. If he was saying that McGuire might be a replacement for Tony Granato, I could buy it. I wouldn't like it, but I could buy it. But as the GM? No friggin' way.

...can you name me anyone who has seen more NHL games in the last few years than McGuire has most likely
I bet Gord Miller has watched as many. Or Jim Hughson. Or Bob Cole. Or Craig Simpson. Or James Duthie. Or Bob McKenzie. Hell, I might be willing to give McKenzie a shot as the Avs GM.
Can you name me a person who has has a more varied menu of personnel he’s spoken to in the last few years
That might be fair. But I would change "spoken to" to "sucked up to". Because that's the real part of the job description. He's not there to call out coaches or GMs or players. He's there to get sound bites.
He’s got two Stanley Cup rings on his fingers, as a scout and assistant coach with Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992
He was hired as a scout in '90. I doubt he was crucial to the Cup win in '91. I'll give you '92 because he was an assistant coach at the time. His head coaching career went down in flames following those years and he hasn't been back since. I'm going to call that a pattern.
I mean, why not?
Because his first order of business would be to trade the farm for Dion Phaneuf.

Eric Lacroix Rumors Shut Down

Amidst a bit of buzz over why Adrian Dater removed a post on Eric Lacroix becoming the next GM of the Avs, he has cleared the air on why: Eric Lacroix isn't being considered for the job and wouldn't take it if offered.

I can finally exhale.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Avs to Hire In-House GM; Does Jay Feaster Count?

This little ditty was in a Montreal Gazette column today:

Colorado looks for GM 'in-house': A report in the Denver Post said fired Colorado Avalanche general manager François Giguère will be replaced by "one of several in-house candidates." If that's the case, you can bet team president Pierre Lacroix has already decided Patrick Roy will be behind the Colorado bench next season.
Color me unsurprised.

Promotion from within is great but there is also a time for outside help. Last year's coaching "search" was likely one of those times. The new GM is possibly one of those times as well.

Former Tampa Bay Lightning GM Jay Feaster has contacted Lacroix regarding his interest in the position. Will Lacroix - even with the history between the two - bother to entertain the notion? It feels doubtful.

Feaster is by no means the answer, but it would be nice to know that they're casting the net far and wide in their search.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Avalanche Pick Third in 2009 NHL Entry Draft

Welcome to Colorado, Matt Duchene.

The draft lottery is over and the Avalanche maintained the #3 selection in the 2009 NHL entry draft. The New York Islanders won the Tavares sweepstakes while the Tampa Bay Lightning retained the #2 selection. In other words, nothing changed.

If you're not stoked about Matt Duchene. You might be after reading Bob McKenzie's comments:

...the scouts love everything about Duchene. They like his size, strength, speed, skill and smarts. They see him as a character player, as someone who can score goals, make plays and work as hard without the puck as with it. There’s nothing not to like about the Brampton Battalion forward. Tavares and Hedman are heavy favorites to go one-two in this draft, but if there’s one player who could upset that scenario, it’s probably Duchene. Not to give it away just yet, but when we release a revised Top 15 draft ranking tonight on the NHL Draft Lottery show on TSN at 8 p.m. eastern, Duchene will be a rock-solid No. 3 but at least one of the 10 scouts we surveyed had him at No. 2, ahead of Hedman.

Craig Billington, Vice-President of Hockey Operations, was in the TSN studios for the lottery drawing. He didn't say anything of substance, nor did any of the other representatives of the bottom 5 teams.

Ken Morrow, the Director of Pro Scouting for the Islanders, was non-commital on who they would choose with the first overall pick. If they don't take John Tavares, I would be very surprised.

Tavares and Victor Hedman looked totally stoked at the prospect of going to the New York Islanders. And by stoked I mean utterly non-caring. Hedman gave a nice, not entirely cliche answer. I think Tavares was reading off a teleprompter.

Is it wrong to both hate Sean Avery's antics and hate the emotionless robots that seem to be getting churned out these days? Can't they all be like Lappy?

Related Links
Islanders win lottery, Avs stand pat at third
TSN's Top 15 Prospects
Hello, Matt Duchene
Matt Duchene Tribute Video

Mock Drafting Mockery

Illegal Curve linked to a couple mock draft sites so I thought I'd take a look around for any others and you know what? I didn't find a lot.

Even within the three I found, two haven't been updated since the season end and therefore contain a nice little fail in them where they have the Avs drafting second overall, which is an impossibility.

But if you like speculating, here's some more fodder for you. And don't forget, we'll be able to make even more informed random speculation once the first 14 slots are determined after the draft lottery tonight at 6:00pm MT on TSN and VS.

Related links
NHL Draft Site 2009 Mock Draft
Total Pro Sports 2009 Mock Draft
MyNHLDraft 2009 Mock Draft

Monday, April 13, 2009

The night before the draft lottery

'Tis draft lottery eve and all is quiet on the Western front.

After Francois Giguere was unceremoniously "relieved of his duties", there was a collective sigh of relief as we all leaned back in our armchairs. Finally, we could relax. The dreadful season is over, the GM is gone and management is pissed. Good, good and good.

And tomorrow we will find out which pick the Avs will get in the first round which brings the "good" total to four.

The odds are that the Avs will get the #3 or #4 slot which should mean either Matt Duchene or Evander Kane. But for some reason I'm not counting out Magnus Svenssen-Paajarvi. It could be the wickedly hard to spell - yet still awesome - name but I could see the Avs going off the board with this one.

I hate stats
The New York Islanders secured the "worst team in the league" moniker but they most certainly haven't secured the #1 slot.

Of the 14 times the draft lottery has happened, the worst team in the league has won the right to draft first a total of 6 times. Which if you do the math is pretty close to the advertised odds of 48%.

So it's still conceivable that the Avalanche could win the Tavares sweepstakes. And then they'll go and do something stupid like draft Ryan Ellis.

TV viewing goodness
The draft lottery will be televised live on TSN and Versus at 6:00pm MT. And while that's happening, CBC will be hosting a show that breaks down each playoff series and features Paul Kukla, Greg Wyhsynski and Tom Benjamin.

Thank goodness for dual-tuner PVRs. Otherwise I'd have to do something like exercise or read or talk to someone.

Related Links
Top mid-season prospects

Franois Giguere...You're Fired!

As I'm waiting in line to check in to head back to Saskatoon, I got a text message from TSN stating "Colorado Avalanche fire General Manager Francois Giguere"

It's not surprising this happened nor is it surprising it happened this soon. This was a dreadful season and seeing players like Tyler Arnason and Darcy Tucker on the ice magnified the horror. With two 1-0 losses to close out the season, that was all the big shots could handle.

Swift action is a sign that ownership is as pissed off as we are about how the last three seasons went down so I'm feeling a bit optimistic at the moment.

That they didn't announce a dual firing could indicate that Tony G gets to stick around for another year.

More thoughts once I'm back in moose country.

Related Links
Changes in Colorado
Avs fire GM Giguere
Giguere fired
Avalanche fire Giguere, Lacroix resumes control

Sunday, April 12, 2009

You've got to be f'n kidding me

Tickets to two Avs games - Free (thanks, Jay!)
Amazing Onion Rings at the Pepsi Center - $3.50
Paul Stastny Game Used Stick - $50
4 nights at Residence Inn Suites - $500
Flight for two to Denver - $2000
Not seeing a single damn goal - Priceless

More thoughts on the end of the season once I'm home. Maybe the tears will have stopped by then.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I've Arrived and I'm Already Sad and Ranty

I'm here in Denver after a long day of flying. And barely 4 hours in to my stay here, my heart has been broken. AD just broke the news that Joe Sakic will not be suiting up this weekend.

I took a gamble but it didn't pay off. Still, no regrets. I'll be meeting Jay, Dario and possibly Adam on Sunday and will have a full day tomorrow to take in Denver so it's still going to be good. And Lappy's 1000th game will be Sunday and the guy deserves all the adoration the fans can give him.

On an interesting side note - and this may be part of a larger offseason post - but a buddy I work with tried working a few connections to get me some backstage access at one of the weekend games. It was soundly denied by the team due to their awesome team policy of not talking to their fans. Though they appreciate my "passionate following of the team", they weren't willing to take a minute to listen to one. Or even give a pre-game tour to someone who just dropped a couple grand to watch the team during one of the worst season's in franchise history.

Now, I don't want to get on the soapbox too deep here but I'll quickly say this. If they said "Sorry, we're really busy and this is too short of notice", I would have understood. But that they pass it off as their team policy, it gets my knickers in a bit of a twist. Not because I think I'm owed anything, but because of the overall attitude of the organization towards the fans. It's a new era. An era of openness that organizations like the Washington Capitals are charging into with open arms. I have my doubts on the Avs ever truly uncrossing theirs.

But I will soldier on and see if I can somehow manage to get a meet and great with Mr. Sakic himself. He'll be in street clothes which should make it a bit easier. If I can convince them to let him know that a Swift Current Bronco fan is in town and would love nothing more than to say "Hi, Mr. Sakic" and get a quick autograph, I think Joe would be willing to accommodate that. Whether he'll be allowed to is a different story.

Related Links
Avs lock up #3 spot in lottery

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Finally, Per Ledin Has Come to Colorado

Per Ledin is on his way to the big club so we may finally get a chance to see what this guy can do.

The unfortunate part is that this may mean Marek Svatos is hurting after an awkward fall last night and won't be dressing up for Thursday.

About time someone on the team got injured, eh?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Avs Nearly Get Past Sharks, Lose 1-0

Peter Budaj clocked a shutout tonight against the San Jose Sharks but the Avalanche still came away with just one point. One meaningless yet exciting point. Because no matter how badly I want Tavares or Hedman, I can't diminish my excitement when the team puts up a fight against one of the top-3 teams in the league.

But did anyone find it weird that the Avs hung in as well as they did? Sure, Budaj carried them into and through OT, but the Avs seemed pretty even with the Sharks tonight. Well, I might have come across a bit of insight as to what was up with the Sharks tonight.

On the way home from work yesterday, which takes all of 5 minutes, I was listening to the Drew Remenda Sports Show as I often do. Drew brought up a conversation he had with Todd McLellan Sunday evening.

On the plane ride back to San Jose following the Sharks 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks, McLellan asked Remenda what he thought of the game. Drew told McLellan that he thought the Sharks looked like a different team. A different, less explosive team.

McLellan's reply was "It's playoff hockey now, Drew! There'll be no more three-wide rushes into the zone. We're tightening up and getting ready for the push." To which I ask "If wide open has worked so far, why change it up?"

Obviously I'm no NHL coach and given what McLellan has done at that level already, I'll have to trust him. But I'll tell you what, I expected the Sharks to destroy the Avalanche tonight. I mean obliterate them. Like what the Hurricanes did to the Islanders.

Random Thoughts
I'm really liking Michael Vernace. Sure, he's had some stumbles along the way, but he looks very calm and collected out there. Late in the third, he fell on his back in front of Budaj but he got up quickly and immediately raced over to pick up a man in front. He didn't look for the puck, he looked for an open man. Hell yeah.

And related to that play was a game saving stop by Budaj. With Vernace on his keester and Ian Laperierre whiffing on a clear, Jeremy Roenick found himself wide open with the puck on his stick. But Budaj quickly closed up shop which left Roenick looking skyward. I woke up the neighbours on that one. Budaj put in one hell of a performance tonight once the Sharks started pressuring.

We know Jonathon Cheechoo won the Rocket Richard trophy. Once. He's scored progressively less goals every year since then. Can we say "outlier"?

Did anybody catch the 'stache on the guy in the visitor's penalty box? Am I the only one who was reminded of Snidely Whiplash? It was awesome.

Jay Vean caught an interesting thing at the end of the game. Dave Barr and Todd McLellan shook hands at the end of the game. Usually you don't see that until the playoffs and even then it's only at the end of a series, not every game.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Avalanche Thump Canucks, Win 4-1

I gotta tell you, that felt good. No, it didn't help the Tank it 4 Tavares standings, but I was getting sick and bloody tired of watching this team lose.

So with four rookie defensemen and a rookie centering the top line, the Colorado Avalanche took down the Vancouver Canucks and dealt a blow to the Canucks race for the Northwest crown.

I cheered like hell on every goal and ran around the room giving high fives when the buzzer sounded. Which is a bit weird since nobody else was in the room at the time. If my neighbours didn't know better, they'd have thought the Avs were having a good season and had just secured a playoff berth.


Random thoughts
T.J. Galiardi now has three goals in seven games - all coming against Vancouver - and is building up my expectations for next season.

Wojtek Wolski made his return after battling the flu. Apparently the team was worried it could be mono. Or possibly a broken leg.

I like Ryan Kesler's style but I didn't like him moving in on Ian Laperriere without reciprocating on taking off his helmet as Lappy did. But on the other hand, I can see why some guys are a bit reluctant to lose their lid these days. I'm torn on the fighting issue and during the offseason, I might put my thoughts to bits and explain why I'm so torn.

Milan Hejduk scored to overtake Ryan Smyth for the Avs goal scoring "race". It might not be the Avs finest year but Hejduk has been a consistent performer for this team and I'm glad he's leaning towards coming back.

How disappointed was everyone that Peter Budaj just missed the goose egg? Once the first period was over, I thought to myself "Budaj's got a shot at a shutout tonight." But alas, it wasn't to be.

Upcoming Schedule
The Avalanche play the Sharks tomorrow night and I don't expect anything near the same result. Brace yourselves, this one may get ugly.

Then it's back home for the final three games of the season. And as you may recall, I will be in Denver for all three.

I'll be checking out one game with with my girl and then I'll be taking in the final game with Mr. Jay Vean of the Avs Hockey Podcast.

I've still got my fingers crossed that Joe Sakic will suit up for Sunday's game but even if he doesn't, I'm still somewhat comforted that it will be Lappy's 1000th NHL game. So either way, it should be a historic night.

Related Links
Sakic Eyes Olympic Gold

Friday, April 3, 2009

Et tu, Microsoft?

I've usually got Windows Live Messenger opened up alongside my main monitor. Sometimes it's covered by other windows, sometimes it's not but I still blissfully ignore the ever-changing ads. Until a second ago when this one popped up:

There was a full slate of games yesterday but no, let's highlight the Avs shutout loss to the friggin' Coyotes.

I'm leaving work early to go cry in a corner by myself.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Smyth Breaks His Hand

Ryan Smyth has a broken hand and is out for the season.

The final pockmark on this wreck of a season will be if Joe Sakic doesn't suit up and then retires in the off season.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Avalanche Shut Out by Coyotes

The first 8-game losing streak for the franchise since 17 years ago. They must really want Tavares.

Avalanche vs Coyotes Game Preview

It's been a while since I did a game preview but I felt like phoning one in while I had nothing else to do.

I'm sitting here at the office riding out the next hour until it's time for Game 7 of the Saskatoon Blades-Lethbridge Hurricanes series. It's going to be a packed house tonight and it should be one hell of a game. But it means I will completely miss the Avalanche game tonight.

See, this morning, I had my day mostly planned out. The morning of work would be taken up with a few tasks, then in the afternoon I was going to be at the University of Saskatchewan for a while which is always a nice break. There was a presentation by a former coworker on the Palm Pre which I wanted to attend and then myself and my boss were guest lecturers for a web programming class. Then I would head back to the office, register for a volleyball league - more on that later - head home, set the Avs game to record and head out to SaskPlace.

The morning went as expected, the Palm Pre talk was interesting - I want one! - and then it was time for the guest lecture. I've done guest lectures before but usually I had researched what I was going to say. This time, I forgot I was doing it until last night so I wasn't that prepared. But I think I successfully fooled everyone into thinking I knew what I was talking about.

I lingered a little while longer at the university - it is spring after all and it's a beautiful campus - and ended up back at the office by 4:45. At 5:20, myself and a coworker had to be at a different campus - SIAST - to register for a volleyball league and attend their AGM. I quickly whipped off a few emails and chatted to some people and then we headed off to register. We were the first ones there - saying that always reminds me of Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Vacation when he arrives at Wally World - and we got our names on the list. Ching!

Now the Blades game starts at 7:00 and I thought it was all good. Our names were on the list and there was still an hour and a half to spare. But then I asked the question I shouldn't have asked: "Do we have to stay for the whole meeting to keep our spot on the list?" And I got the answer I didn't want to hear: "Yes"

You tell any diehard hockey fan that they have to miss a Game 7 of any series be it NHL, AHL, WHL, SMJHL and all the way down to Pee-Wee rec leagues and they'll probably tell you to go "get better acquainted with yourself", if you catch my drift.

But thankfully I've got a dear of a friend who said "Go watch the game, I'll stay"

So now I feel guilty as hell that I'm making her stay all by herself to suffer through a dreadful meeting and I'm also mildly disappointed I won't get home to set the Avs game to record.

But it's Game 7, I paid for the tickets and I can't miss this. Even if it means I have to kowtow to a friend for a few weeks so I don't feel like a major ass.

Best game preview ever, eh? Enjoy the game but spend some of your energy cheering on the Blades, eh? They need it more than the Avs do.

Sakic to Talk After Morning Skate

Good grief, AD, you had me sweating for a second. The use of quotes around "update" in your headline had me thinking you had inside info on some bad news.

I wouldn't expect Sakic to hang 'em up just like that but fans are rightfully a little on edge these days. Hell, Jibbles is having an out-of-body experience this morning (yes, I know)

I would expect the press conference to be fairly standard. The words "progressing well" will be used. Someone will ask if this is his last season. Someone will ask if he's anxious to get back on the ice. Someone will make a crack about a snowblower and a rabbi.

It should be standard fare. I hope.