Avs Season in Review (a Long Time in Coming)
I realize that there’s been a “where are they going” article for the avs, but never a season in review, and since we’ve all got lots of down time now…. here is something to spark some comments.
This may be a bit late, but let’s face it, no one
needs to be told that the Avs season was a big disappointment for anyone who read the news last summer the day the Selanne/Kariya trade happened. No one has a full explanation for why this team did not go further, but that has never stopped HTR members from piping up vociferously in the past. So, here it goes.
COACHING: I hear lots of stuff about how Granato got out coached but I really don’t see that as the problem. Obviously this team had the talent to have gone all the way, but the players did not make it happen. Why?? I sort of have the feeling that they were trying to wait and turn it on in the later rounds. Dallas did not make this attitude any better because they rolled over so easily in the first round. Anyway we all know you can’t win a cup unless all are hungry all the time and the Sharks certainly showed that to the experienced and perhaps overconfident Avs. The point is I’m not sure Granato could have convinced this group of superstars to do what he said in the playoffs if he had tried. They have all simply been there too much and have their own opinions about playoff success. (PS that’s why the Avs need a harda** like Bob Hartley to make them realize they have to outwork people in the playoffs, not just out talent them on paper (see e.g. Calgary v. Detroit).
PERSONNEL: Well , I ranted on the coaching without actually slamming the coaches too hard. But, really when it comes down to it these players should have performed better. All around, singling no one out (not even the defense) paper seemed to dictate at least the conference finals for this team. Though lots say that the regular season doesn’t matter, I disagree. If this team had finished stronger, I feel they could have gone much further. I’ll sort of leave players at that because all know that to a man they did not perform like they should have (maybe Sakic is the exception)
MANAGEMENT: here, surprisingly, is where I see the problem this year. I have to say that normally I think Lacroix is a genius and would compare him favorably to any other GM in the league, but this season he really rocked the boat way too much. I will not argue with the Barnaby trade (I think he’s the kind of player all teams want) or the Salo trade (they needed a backup), but that other one really sucked some serious ba**s. The dynamic of this team really changed too much in the late season without improving the defense at all. Obviously it sucked to have Blake go down in the P.offs but in theory they should have had the D to sustain a challenge without him (before the Morris trade that is). On a bitter and slightly unrelated note, this team has never been the same since giving up Drury. How do you get rid of a born winner??
RECOMMENDATIONS: First the list of Avs players that should be kept:
Barnaby: pure grit with some scoring ability. Who could ask for more?
Konowalchuk: Please God let the Avs resign this guy. Hardest worker on the ice almost every game and a great asset in front of the goal on the PP.
Forsberg: ??? this is the one I am really crossing my fingers on. Being in the Denver area though and hearing the rumors after each season about how he’s leaving, I sort of have to expect the worst in this offseason when there won’t even be any hockey next season.
NOW the OTHER PLAYERS:
Kariya/ Selanne: did the Avs really need them??? I defy a GM in this league to have turned down this pair for the price, but their combined inconsistency was a huge part of the avs woes. Sometimes I felt like they were taking roster spots from players who would work harder though maybe not score so much. Obviously they are proven professionals and should be given the benefit of the doubt, but they will be viewed skeptically in the future by any team who may pick up either.
ROLE PLAYERS: I absolutely agree with everyone who says Worrell is worthless. Who cares if he can fight (which he isn’t even that good at) his huge a@* takes up like two spots on the bench for other players. Gratton should leave immediately as well. Ballard, oh , whoops the future of the Avs D (besides Liles) is gone so no worries there. And as the Avs have already picked up Hendrickson and some Hershey players again, I’ll leave role players at that. I’ll just have to keep scratching my head here and wondering why so many of the Avs former players were in the Cup Finals this year??
We will see what happens with the Avs after any lockout, but I fear they are in a position (like Detroit and Philly) where too many of their superstars are aging. Anyway, if nothing else, I hope this article provokes some conversation in hockey’s down season. And if you’ve got something nasty to say let me have it, I won’t be offended, I’m married.