The snowball of failure continues to grow in Denver

I’m about to do something very unprofessional, so bear with me for a second.  *ahem*  WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, COLORADO?  ARE YOU OFF YOUR COLLECTIVE ROCKERS?  JEEZUM CROCKETT, Y’ALL’RE GONNA END UP IN A TITAN SIZED TOILET.

*breathes heavily*

I think I’m better now.  Seriously though, the Colorado Avalanche are now shining examples of what it means to be short sighted and oblivious of the league around them.  In my article about the losers in the West in regards to free agency, I thought the Avs addressed a goaltending problem (not very well, but still) and didn’t do anything else worthwhile.  I think they’re young and Paul Stastny is impressive and Matt Duchene will be a great player someday, but besides those two young stars, there isn’t a whole lot the team has to be proud of.  I figured “Hey, they didn’t really screw themselves all that badly, they got some new goalies but they needed that, the kids will mature into leaders like Peter Forsberg was and Milan Hejduk is to an extent nowadays after a season or two, this won’t kill them”.  In my fact checking process, I (in another glorious lack of professionalism) managed to overlook exactly what they traded to the Washington Capitals in return for netminder Semyon Varlamov.  What Colorado bartered wasn’t something reasonable like a young prospect and a mid-round pick or something comparable to what the rest of the league does when trading for a player of Varly’s caliber.  Nay, they gave Washington, arguably the most dangerous team in the league since their acquisition of one of the most talented goaltenders around, Tomas Vokoun, a first round draft pick for next year’s draft, and a second round for either the same year or the following.

Varlamov is a pretty good goalie, there’s no doubt about that, but can he really handle the workload of a number one starter?  The Caps tried that with him and he’s proven himself to be injury prone, which is the absolute last thing the Avs need.  They’ve gone and traded away talented young ones like Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis prior to the deadline last year, and the player they got in return (Erik Johnson) has been all but invisible since becoming an Av.  The legendary Forsberg even attempted a return last year, only to break himself in half and retire again after two games, registering an impressive zero points.  So ever since their surprise playoff run and subsequent first round exit two years ago, the team has hit a spate of bad luck, and clearly they’re hoping the 23-year-old Russian will help break the curse.

The problem is that they’ve invested far too much in him.  Yes, this is a young team with a good chunk of potential, but they won’t reach it this year, not with the mediocre team around the young players.  If their hilariously tragic second-half skid last year was any indication, it’s gonna be a good while before this team figures out how to play together and produce consistent threats in either end of the zone, and until that time they’re going to be the whipping boys of the Northwestern division.

As mentioned before, Varlamov is injury prone.  And in addition to that, his stats were merely okay when he had one of the best teams in front of him.  Sure they weren’t all that defensively minded but he still couldn’t step up like, say Jonas Hiller.  Hiller faces roughly ten quadrillion shots per night and keeps Anaheim in the game when they’re having a slow offensive night, Varly simply isn’t up to that.  Not to mention that Washington always had a solid tandem in net, if Varlamov was faltering, they could swap him out for Neuvirth or Holtby, and now that that safety net is gone, there’s just that much more pressure on him.

But as I’m sure most of you have just wondered “How could he be missing a safety net when he has Jean-Sebastian Giguere behind him?”, and that’s a valid query.  Giggy is a both a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe winner (one of only five to ever do so on the losing side), and at 34, he’s certainly aging and past his prime but is still able to play at an adequate level.  The problem is that he doesn’t want to play backup, and never has.  He caused a stir in Anaheim back when he was quoted as saying he’d “rather retire than play backup”, and was shortly shipped off to Toronto, where in a shocking twist of fate, he ended up playing backup for the young James Reimer.  Now he’s being brought into a struggling team who is sure to play poorly against the tough Western Conference for the sole purpose of being a backup.  He’s gonna have something to prove, and will play his heart out and surely get extra time when Varly ends up injured like we all know he will.  With that said, Giggy himself has been prone to groin injuries over the last few years.  Colorado has put all of their eggs into broken breadbaskets, and it’s sure to backfire on them.

I’m being cruel, because I will admit that both Varlamov and Giguere are solid goalies currently, and the former will probably improve before his time in the NHL is up, but they don’t have a good team in front of them.  Not only that, but Washington was given a potential lottery pick in return for Varlamov, so Colorado has given themselves a new, shaky foundation while simultaneously making the best team better.  It’s gonna be a brutal slide for the Avs, and I’ll be at the top of their mountain screaming “I told ya so!”.  They’re a struggling team who gave up too much for a vague hope and a prayer, while not bolstering the rest of their roster in ways they so desperately needed, like defensive capability, scoring touch, skating skill, toughness, and basically every aspect necessary to play hockey.  To close, I’ll just make the bad pun I’ve been debating making throughout the entire time I’ve been writing this… the folks making the decisions in Denver have got to be Rocky Mountain High.

I am profoundly sorry.

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