August 27, 2008 5:42 PM
Finally, Captain Joe is back
OK, it took a little longer than any of us anticipated -- make that a lot longer -- but Joe Sakic will be back for another season with the Avalanche, having signed a one-year, $6 million contract today.
Sakic's return immediately makes the Avalanche a much stronger team, or did anyone really think Tyler Arnason or even T.J. Hensick would be able to handle the responsibility of centering the second line?
With Captain Joe back for a 20th NHL season -- and back on the top line -- third-year center Paul Stastny will anchor the second unit and give the Avalanche what should be a couple of good line combinations.
I wonder if Sakic would have decided to come back if he thought the Avalanche would fare as poorly as some of the preseason prognosticators do. Many are predicting this team to finish near or at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Sakic wasn't available today and he'll hold a news conference on Thursday at Sanctuary in Sedalia before his annual golf tournament that benefits Food Bank of the Rockies' children's programs, but the discussions apparently will be limited to the charity event.
The Avalanche will hold a formal news conference with Sakic on Tuesday at the Family Sports Center in Centennial, holding off because of the DNC downtown and the upcoming Labor Day Weekend.
I still think the Avalanche will have a tough time making the playoffs -- are Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft the answer in goal? -- but the defense should be more than adequate with Adam Foote, John-Michael Liles, Scott Hannan, Ruslan Salei, Jordan Leopold and Brett Clark.
But it'd sure be nice if Leopold and Clark can stay healthy, and there's still a possibility that Peter Forsberg -- if he can ever get his chronic foot problems resolved -- will be back as well.
Forsberg's agent, Don Baizley, told me today that Forsberg is still trying to get the problem fixed, but that it hasn't happened just yet.
It's also possible, of course, that the foot will continue to be troublesome and that we've seen the last of Foppa in the NHL.