Nice work, SI. I don't remember Big Buff going to Chicago this summer, but that's b/c he was already there, so going there would...uhm...cross the streams? I got nothing.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I'm shutting my hole until after the deadline. I think the Avs aren't done trading guys, and I already overreacted to the Andy deal--only AFTER writing my meltdown did it come out that his people (and maybe he) had turned down a two-year 7.5-million dollar extension before this year began. That would have colored my reaction by like a lot.
But then Peter Stastny comes along and unloads the following:
“This young team was ready to challenge, almost, for a Stanley Cup this season. They were so good. All they needed was some more chemistry, and some synergies. Instead, they destroyed the team. I mean, that was a one-way deal. Mr. Armstrong will look like a genius. I don’t know what they were thinking in the Colorado organization. I should not have said this, but I’m so, so mad what they’ve done to this team. They’ve moved the team about two to three years back again.”
As for Stastny the elder, I have two main threads of thought.
One: as the PD article mentions, the guy lives in St. Louis & worked for the Blues. Hasn't had anything to do w/ the Avs in a long long time. Sure, he's entitled to his opinion, but:
Two: if you share your opinion, people should approach it critically. If *I* said:
“This young team was ready to challenge, almost, for a Stanley Cup this season."I would be laughed at.
With good cause! It is a preposterous statement. If you take each of his claims and examine them naked, you get a bunch of hysterical ravings that don't seem to match up with consensus reality all that closely.
"They were so good."
They had lost 9 in a row when they made the trade.
"All they needed was some more chemistry, and some synergies. "
*If* that means anything, and I'm not convinced that it does, then maybe moving these guys improves chemistry/synergies. By all accounts, Stewart was popular and Shattenkirk had a lot of "leadership", but Peter Stastny has never set foot in the Avs locker room or showed up at a practice, so why again are we supposed to give a flying fuck what he has to say about anything?
"Instead, they destroyed the team."
Wait. We got 2 players and a draft pick. This is destroying? Take a look at what Ron Francis got traded from Hartford for; THAT was destroying a team.
"I mean, that was a one-way deal."
"One-way deal"? We gave up a promising but inconsistent power forward for a promising but inconsistent top-2 Dman; we gave up an offensive Dman--which we have half-a-dozen of--for a decent defensive forward, which we are short of.
And we got a first-round draft pick, which, you know: not too fucking shabby.
"Mr. Armstrong will look like a genius."
It's possible. I think the Blues are a smart franchise, and I think they're rebuilding pretty efficiently and intelligently. One piece of evidence I have for this is that they identified a weakness--the need for a power forward--and moved an element of their strength--a stout, deep blue line--to address that weakness.
Why, it's similar to a move Mr. Sherman made, identifying a weakness--small defensive corps--and moving one of his strengths--high-scoring forwards--to address that weakness.
"I don’t know what they were thinking in the Colorado organization."
That is obvious.
"I should not have said this, but I’m so, so mad what they’ve done to this team."
Yeah. They really shoulda stuck with the undersized puckmovers who helped them to that 10-loss streak. Making trades to fill holes is fucking stupid. Unless your name is Mr. Armstrong, I guess.
"They’ve moved the team about two to three years back again."
If true, that would make me sad, because we'd be about to trade Ryan Smyth again and would have to sit through another year+ of end-stage Darcy Tucker and Tyler "The Human Person" Arnason.
But I don't think it is true. Back then, hoes didn't want me. Now I'm hot, hoes all up on me. No, sorry. Mike Jones moment there. What I meant: back then, our team was at the cap limit and old. Now our team is at the cap floor and young. Are we gonna make the playoffs this year? No. But we didn't then either. If you're gonna miss the playoffs in year N, do it with young players and lots of cap space for year N+1. We're doing that this year; we weren't doing it then.
In conclusion Peter Stastny, have another drink & HAVE A NICE DAY.
--Collision, hanging & banging, but broke as a joke
Friday, February 18, 2011
nil carborundum illegitimo
Well, apparently from my poison pen to Greg Sherman's desk. Mere hours after my most recent public meltdown in the face of an Avalanche team that oscillates between "baffling" and "completely fucking inscrutable", Avs GM Sherman banished injury-plagued scapegoat goaltender Craig Anderson to Ottawa, which has been the Graveyard of Goaltending Careers for some years now. "Ottawa Senators goaltending failure" returns 241,000 results on Google.
I'm on record as hoping like a motherfucker that St. Mayor Craig Anderson posts half a dozen shutouts over the remainder of the season, getting himself well and truly paid. The Avs weren't going to do it, and they'll save themselves 350,000 over the rest of this wasted season because of the move. As late as Thursday night, he was still going on record saying all the right things. He wasn't using injuries as an excuse, he was happy to play hockey for a living, he was determined to "make the most" out of his next opportunity.
Personally, I'm sad he didn't say what I think he thought, which would have gone something like
Joe Sacco is a terrible handler of goalies. Yanking me out constantly helped even less than trotting me out there before I was ready.
This organization is on its third goaltending coach in three seasons. It used to be Jeff Hackett full-time. Then there was Jocelyn Thibault part-time.
All he did was help get career years out of me and out of Petr Budaj. so of course they booted him and replaced him with Kirk McLean, who spends all his time in Vancouver, managing his restaurant. He's only with the team a few days a month. And he had never coached except for a little while in intellectual hotbed and notorious source of high-quality goalies Kamloops.
And oh--by the way: there's not one NHL-caliber goalie in the pipeline. Not. One.
That's what I wish Anderson had said.
Of course, that's not what he said. Near as I can tell, he didn't say anything at all. (Brian Elliott, the guy who he was traded for, was said to have refused to speak to the media. So, uhm...welcome to the Avalanche, Mr. Elliott! Hope you don't feel like playing behind professional-quality defenses or working on your game with a full-time goalie coach!)
As far as the media responses go, Dater nails this one. Not surprising, since it's a negative move, and nobody understands the negative like Adrian Dater. (That's not a dig: I think Dater's the best beat guy in the NHL.)
Goalie Guild Ryan, on the other hand, follows up a too-long/stupid-to-even-link-to babblefest about RISING TO THE OCCASION and WORK ETHIC and STAYING POSITIVE with this idiotic horseshit where he repeatedly calls Anderson (6-2, 180) "bigger" than Brian Elliott (6-2, 198). Seriously, why do I even bother following links to this stuff anymore? The guy is a "pro goalie scout" the same way Paris Hilton is a "professional actress": just because somebody stupider than you pays you to do something doesn't mean you're any goddamned good at it. If I want to read stupid heavy-metal routines half-assedly applied to hockey, I know where to look for that.
And I would be remiss if I didn't tip my hat to Mile High Hockey, which echoes my Andy/David Aebischer-are-parallels thoughts and rightly concludes
I think it's an "okay" deal. Anderson was going to be moved and the market for goalies is never incredibly strong, especially goalies who are struggling. It's possible Elliott exceeds expectations, but this is more likely a case of GM Greg Sherman getting the best possible return for a player that was going to be moved regardless.
As a side note, it'd take a better blogger than me to figure out why multiple sources list Anderson's record this year as "13-5-3"; ten losses shy of the actual mark. Good cut/paste work, fellas! And superb proofreading and factchecking!
So what are we to make of this new guy, Brian Elliott? Is he fish, fowl, good red herring? Be he cat or kitten, sheepdog or cowlick?
he was derided too easily and too often in Ottawa after being forced to make significant alterations to his style coming out of college, where he spent a lot of time making half-butterfly saves and playing off angle along the goal line. Those were the calling cards of unorthodox long-time Wisconsin goaltending coach Bill Howard. Elliott began the transformation to a more efficient butterfly style and proper angle and recovery tactics under Mike Valley, who is now the goaltending coach for the Dallas Stars, during summer training sessions with Elite Goalies Schools.
The Senators lack of goaltending depth, however, left him trying to make those adjustments against the world’s best shooters.
That was from InGoal Magazine. So, wonderful. A team too cheap to pay a full-time goalie coach trades for a guy in the midst of changing his style. Also that team has a terrible, terrible corps of defensemen.
Welp, apparently I really am now calling the shots for the Avs, because the Avs now have two goalies who will, as I advocated, "let in 1 out of every 10 shots consistently". So, Greg Sherman, since I am Pulling Your Strings, please do not dump J-M Liles or Milan Hejduk. Also: Sir Lord Baltimore is fucking great, yeah?
--Collision, off to get very, very drunk indeed
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
So the Avs have entered full-on south of heaven mode, with the longest losing streak in franchise history. As usual, Jibblescribbits nails the situation and gets there before I do. If you want sober-sided and clear-headed analysis of OH FUCK WHAT NOW in the aftermath of a 9-1 silent scream of a game, he's gotcha covered:
This team is still young, still learning, and still rebuilding. We, as fans, got our hopes up that the rebuild was going to be quick. That Duchene and Forsberg would come save us and that the Avs would return to glory. Management did too. But rebuilds take time. Pittsburgh and Chicago were miserable for many years before enjoying success. The Avs have a way to go, and have some good pieces to do so.
But what to do the remainder of the year? Are the players live or undead? Have they quit on coach Joe Sacco, no longer marching to his orders? Former unquestioned number-one goalie Craig Anderson has gotten crooked, and been crossed off as the starter for four straight games now; I think it's clear that he at least has given up on Sacco and that he (Anderson) won't be brought back next year.1
As for Sacco...I'm guessing the powers that be will watch to see if the team completely gives up on him. If they do, he'll probably get shitcanned in the off-season. If they don't, he'll probably come back.
But I'm just frustrated and incapable of coming to a solid conclusion about this team. All year long, I've been pretty sure they were a little worse than they were last year--but when they're good, they're just irresistable. If I could just convince myself they sucked, I could lie back and enjoy the remainder of the season, calling the games development for the younger players, and chalking up each loss as a mandatory suicide with good long-run consequences. But then they look good and I get excited again...then they turn into nightmares on skates, shell-shocked ghosts of war barely bothering to go through the motions against teams I loathe.
So fuck it. Maybe the rebuild hasn't actually started yet. Maybe it's time to put the screws to the management team, read between the lies they're spewing, & make sure we're not falling in love with the best players on an abysmal team.
So here's my suggestion.
They should trade everybody but Budaj2, Liles, McLeod & Koci & tank a couple more years, get some draft picks.
Why those guys? Because they are the ones who I have so far seen give a fuck every single night. Nobody else. They don't play well every night, but they actually fucking care every night.
Do I know any way to cleanse the soul other than tantrums and foul language? Not really. So, in this rebuilding year that bids fair to be a lost season, all I can really do to hold on is root for wingnut agitators like McLeod to fly around like dissident aggressors, spill some blood.
--Collision, going in the tank for the rest of the year
1I want to be very, very clear about this. Not bringing St. Mayor Craig Anderson back will be a major mistake. This year has been a terrible one for him, but his career numbers suggest he'll be good again next year, wherever he ends up. Every year since 2006 he has had a save percentage of .917 or better; I predict next year he will again, and that whoever ends up working for the Avs won't.
2Why keep Boods? First, I'm a huge proponent of stability at the backup goalie position; those are the guys who the team practices with, and they bring a lot to the table when they're liked. By all accounts, Budaj is tremendously well-liked by his teammates, despite a religious background that earned--earned!--him the nickname "Flanders".
Plus, if you want to rebuild, throw a guy out there who'll let in 1 out of every 10 shots consistently. That is how you get a lottery pick, my friend.
Also found this, which is a similar defense of Budaj & his decent stats and excellent helmet work.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
1. Struggling to weigh in on Forsberg
So the Avs have signed a 37-year-old player who had 1 assist in 4 games the last time he played high-level hockey (in this case, the winter olympics). This would ordinarily be a moderately puzzling but forgettable move, a team shoring up its depth by adding a low-level forward, somebody you'd hope would maybe win faceoffs or be really good in the corners or something.
But this 37-year-old is Peter Forsberg. I've had to remind myself how good--in fact, how great--Foppa once was. For me, his incessant injury-plagued comeback attempts, including tragic, depressing turns with the Flyers & the Predators, had ruined his legacy. But that act of his career, though probably still the last act, shouldn't overwhelm the earlier acts. Forsberg is a former league MVP, a guy who put up better than a point a game through the dead-puck era, a guy who once led the league in playoff scoring in only 3 rounds. On the ice, he combined the skills of both Sedins in one man, able to control the puck in a one-man-cycle that I've never seen another player manage. Forgetting what a stunning player he was redounds to my detriment, not to his.
Can he still play? I have no idea. I doubt it. I predict he'll put up a multi-point game his first game back (not tonight, apparently). Probably a three-assist game. And I predict he will play fewer than 20 games in the remainder of the season, and never play professionally again. But whatever. Medical science has completely reshaped the arc of professional careers: if this last brace of surgeries actually fixed his creaky wheels? Maybe his unparalleled hands & vision can make him a significant factor again.
And no matter what, I've talked myself into being happy to see him take the ice again. He was never my favorite player, but the moments I fell for hockey all included him--particularly watching him & Sakic trotted out there on the penalty kill, two sublime talents bending their games to do the dirty work & bail out their team (-mates). For reminding me of that, I'm glad to see the guy back.
2. On a modest proposal from Puck Daddy
In the wake of yet another late hit, Greg Wyshynski proposes the following:
The next CBA negotiation should include the NHLPA allowing for an increase in financial penalties in lieu of man-games lost. The Players Association clearly doesn't want to see any "super suspensions" of its players, but the message has to be sent somehow. And uncapping the amount of fines a player receives on an injurious, illegal play is an effective way to send that message when you already have half the league bitching about escrow.
This is frankly bizarre. As an approach to (ahem) justice, it's a retrograde maneuver that I find utterly repellent in what purports to be a civilized society. To be clear: adding fines is all well and good. But "in lieu of man-games lost"? People, we've agreed that letting people pay fines without other consequences was a bad idea since 15fucking17.
Do I expect my rejection of indulgences for NHL players to gain any traction? Sadly, I don't. Apparently in our society, freedom from punishment can be purchased with money. Again. And neither in hockey nor anywhere else is there much of an audience for the 95 arguments against this horrifying practice.
--Collision, working on justifying the NHL's ways to man
Friday, February 4, 2011
Okay, when even the scrupulously positive Jay Vean admits "I'm just trying to get excited about something besides Duchene", it's time to admit it:
We're 51 games into an 82-game season. The team is what it is; the season is what it is. The defense isn't very good, the goaltending is sub-par, and the team seems to be addicted to giving up quick goals, particularly against trap teams.
I think there's some hope. Stewart put up a goal and an assist last night. And his size and physical game help compensate for the small, soft defense. If he plays the way he did before breaking his hand, the team might stay in playoff contention.
But what "playoff contention" means for this squad? Is maybe--maybe--winning two home games against the number-one seed. Which is going to be Vancouver, against whom the Avs have gone 1-3-1 on the year. So good luck with that.
No, as Jibblescribbits argued yesterday, the defense is not good, but that can't be fixed this year. It's a personnel issue, and top-tier Dmen are in short, short supply. I hate to argue this, but the Avs have to stay the course this year, run & gun, try to outscore everybody, add what I hope will be a lottery pick, and keep building...for next year.
2. Where the fuck are we going? And how the fuck did we get here?
Well, again, my recipe is to try to outscore everybody with whatever forwards are still standing. Injuries have crushed the forwards on this squad, but everybody who's played has put up numbers. Milan Hejduk has been spectacular, putting up the third-best points-per-game numbers of his 12-year career. I particularly like that his best games have frequently come in the team's worst outings--like last night. When the young kids don't show up, Hejduk seems to be there to put in a good night's work. Which I very much wish I could say about Stastny.
This season has been so particularly frustrating because, I argue, of two uniquely frustrating trades:
Wolski for Mueller
Hannan for Fleischmann1.
Now, Wolski has been poor for Phoenix and the Rangers, and is now on his third team in two seasons, having been traded in each of those seasons. He's apparently turning into a guy who's just attractive enough to trade for, but not valuable enough to keep. So this shouldn't count as much of a loss--except that Mueller hasn't played a single game this year. And that's been quite a lack, because he had been penciled in as a top-six forward. Which, I think, forced the other trade, for Fleischmann.
This move became necessary because forward after forward had gone down and the Avs had to do something to indicate they hadn't given up on the season. I understand the move, and I think Fleischmann was superb for the Avs--8-13-21 in 22 games, with excellent chemistry with Duchene & Hejduk--but now he's lost for the season, and the Avs are desperately in need of a solid defensive Dman with some physicality to his game.
Which is to say they are desperately in need of a Scott Hannan type player.
But they're not going to find one by the trade deadline--and in any case, this year is pretty much done. The die is cast. It's time to sit back and watch some smallish guys fly around and score lots of goals...and give up lots of goals.
--Collision, hoping to get a little more playing time down the stretch
1I'm not touching Cohen for Hunwick. I don't want to turn into a #blamehunwick guy, but 3 points and a -9 in 25 games isn't something I'm interested in trying to defend.