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Not looking ducky for Avalanche
Avalanche fan John Park is questioning some of the moves made by general manager Pierre Lacroix over the years, saying they have adversely affected the team.
Q: I've watched/attended Avalanche games since Day 1. I have never seen them so totally outclassed than during this series. They look like an IHL team playing an NHL team. Outhit, outshot, outscored and outhustled! Pretty depressing, and I blame Lacroix. He has not gotten any offensive scoring threats or any hitters in years. And, of course, he has traded away too many good players, many of whom are starring in these playoffs for other teams. And, obviously, there still are some serious questions in goal. We got lucky and caught Dallas flat. But that's their problem. Shouldn't Lacroix go? Or can he still salvage a team, before Joe (Sakic) gets too old?
A: Whew, John. I know the Avalanche's play was definitely disappointing in the first two games against the Ducks and the chances of winning the series and advancing to the Western Conference finals aren't looking very good. I also know of at least one former Colorado player -- Chris Drury -- who would look very good in an Avalanche uniform right now. He had a habit of scoring clutch goals during his time in Denver, and he scored an overtime goal for Buffalo in its series opener with Ottawa. Teemu Selanne also has been terrific for Anaheim, but he had knee problems during his one season in Colorado and didn't have a great relationship with then-head coach Tony Granato. Selanne seems as slick on his skates as ever since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery.
But to suggest it's time for Pierre Lacroix to go? I thought he did a pretty nice job of stocking the team with free agents -- Andrew Brunette and Ian Laperriere, to name two, had career years in 2005-06 -- under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, which forced the Avalanche to trim a payroll of about $61 million in 2003-04 to fit under the $39 million salary cap.
Do I wish he had kept Peter Forsberg or Adam Foote -- or both? Absolutely. But this team has actually performed a little better than I anticipated. I thought the Avalanche could finish third in the Northwest Division and make the playoffs; the club was second, got a seventh seed and upset No. 2 seed Dallas in the opening round. I didn't think the Avalanche would beat the Stars and my prediction to knock off the Ducks isn't looking very good, but I did think this would be a tough series. Having written that, I certainly didn't expect shutouts in the first two games.
I'm still not sold on the Jose Theodore trade, but the Avalanche probably wasn't going to win a Stanley Cup with David Aebischer, and he wound up as Montreal's backup in the playoffs. I think that deal was made more for the future than for this year; the Avalanche couldn't be certain, when the trade was made, that Theodore would play at all this season after fracturing his heel in February.
It looks like Wojtek Wolski is going to be a good player, but he's still only 20 years old. Rookie Marek Svatos was on pace to score 40 goals before he suffered a shoulder injury in early March, and John-Michael Liles is a good, young defenseman, though he hasn't had the greatest postseason so far.
Bottom line, I wouldn't give up on Lacroix or the franchise just yet.
Kris would like to see rookie Marek Svatos in the Avalanche lineup.
Q: Is it within the realm of possibility that the Avs will get Svatos
back in the lineup this postseason? Also, what is the letter "R" inside a heart on goalie Jose Theodore's mask?
A: First, Svatos is not expected to play again until next year as he recovers from shoulder surgery. The Avalanche was fortunate that Steve Konowalchuk was able to come back from his wrist surgery for the second round of the playoffs, though his presence didn't help in the first two games against the Ducks. It is possible that defenseman Ossi Vaananen, who broke his ankle just before the NHL break for the Olympics, could be available at some point, depending on how long the Avalanche lasts. He has been skating in non-contact drills for some time but hasn't been medically cleared for contact. He'd need at least a couple of contact practices before playing.
As for the heart and "R" on Theodore's mask, I believe it is for his baby daughter, Romi, who was born in March.
Bob Masters would like to see the Avalanche show replays of opponent's goals on the videoboard at the Pepsi Center.
Q: Why doesn't the Avalanche show replays of opponents' goals after they occur at the Pepsi Center? Is it NHL policy or Avalanche policy? I believe I have been in other arenas that show visitors' goals.
A: Well, Bob, we in the media asked about showing replays way back in the preseason. To be honest, it was more of a selfish move on our part because we get to watch replays on monitors in the press box during the regular season and playoffs when the games are on television. But few, if any, exhibition games are televised, so we don't get to see replays then.
Anyway, we were told by the Avalanche that this is the way they have been doing business since the team has been in Denver, and they apparently aren't about to change the policy.
I think it's silly. Replays of opposing teams are shown in virtually every other arena, and I would think that fans would want to see a replay of every goal, no matter which team scores it. My guess is the only way the policy would be changed is if the Avalanche receives enough complaints from fans.
Jeremy May sounds like he thinks Pierre Turgeon's days in Colorado are numbered.
Q: It seems more and more remote that Pierre Turgeon has a future with this team, but the problem is that he signed a two-year deal with the Avs after the lockout. Can teams buy out contracts this summer like they were able to do before this season? If not, might they release him outright? How would either move affect the salary cap?
A: Turgeon's numbers certainly took a hit after he got off to a good start, as eight of his 16 goals came in the first 21 games. He missed 16 games with a shoulder injury and struggled after linemate Marek Svatos was lost for the season with his shoulder injury. Turgeon played quite a bit on the third and fourth lines down the stretch and was scratched for the first two games of the Ducks series.
Considering how ineffective the power play has been lately, I think Turgeon could help there. He isn't the fastest skater on the planet by any means, but he can be effective on power plays, especially when the Avalanche is controlling the puck in the offensive zone. To use a basketball term, he can still be a good "half-court" player where a lot of skating isn't needed.
Turgeon has another year left on his contract valued at $1.5 million. Yes, the Avalanche could buy him out, making him an unrestricted free agent. That's what the Dallas Stars did, a move that enabled him to sign with the Avalanche after Peter Forsberg left Colorado to sign with Philadelphia. By buying Turgeon out, the Avalanche would need to pay him two-thirds of the money owed -- in this case, $1 million. I believe the entire $1.5 million would still count toward the salary cap.
Once again, thanks to all of you for your questions.
What's the medical status and likely future of Steve Moore including his legal efforts. Has he absolutely been abandoned by the organization?
Bob & Linda Reel - Portland OregonPosted by Bob Reel on July 20, 2006 11:42 AM
Was pulling Brett McLean the best move for Game 3? I can think of a few other players I would rather have sit out instead.Posted by Nancy on May 10, 2006 09:02 AM