Nashville Predators v Colorado Avalanche

Last night I paid my debt to the boys on the Backhand Shelf Podcast and settled in to do my Forced Watching duties, which entailed watching and writing about the Colorado/Calgary game. That post will run shortly after this one, but Giguere’s comments seemed a little more newsworthy than my thoughts, so we’ll start with those.

The facts:

* The Colorado Avalanche are in 30th place of 30 NHL teams, a full three points behind Florida & Calgary for 28th/29th

* Last night they lost to Calgary, moving closer to their “goal” of last place and the highest pick in the draft

* A draft system that rewards team for losing is bulls**t

* Any man or woman who doesn’t have enough personal pride to say “I’m too proud to roll over and not give it my best is also bulls**t, and JS Giguere called his team on it last night.

In two of my four college seasons, our team finished last in the conference. It’s not fun. Last most bad teams, the cause was mostly being less talented than our opponents, but problems snowball, and that’s what Giguere got at. The games move from your top priority to a hindrance to your social schedule (especially for young bucks), and when you have some guys checked out and others not…inner-dressing room fireworks ensue.

After a lengthy quote about them having to be better in their d-zone, here’s what he said to Adrian Dater (full post here):

“Some guys are more worried about their Vegas trip at the end of the season than playing the games, than playing every minute of the games. Quite frankly, I don’t care about your Vegas trip right now.”

A group of young kids who know the season’s over? They’re absolutely mentally checked out on this season. And for a guy like Giguere – top 50 in NHL games played by a goalie, according to Dater, with a Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup on his resume – eff those kids for not realizing how much more the NHL can be than a place to get paid and get famous.

Obviously I wasn’t there to get the proper context, but in my opinion, his next quote is just as scathing, if not more. Dater called the above quote “the strongest he’s heard from an Avs player in his 18 years covering the team.” Add this to the pile, I’m sure:

“It’s embarrassing. I’m embarrassed to be here right now. It’s not even funny.”

That’s a pretty aggressive poke. “I’m embarrassed to be here right now.” Coaches love that stuff, and while that sounds sarcastic, they do when it’s from the right guy, as this is. It shows that the guy has some pride and isn’t content with pouring out of the clown car before puck drop every game and being a laughingstock. For f***’s sake, his team is in the Forced Watched challenge. FORCED. That’s where they’re at.

“I don’t know what it is. I’ve been around for 15 years in this league and I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why we seem like we don’t care at points. I don’t know, I don’t know we seem like, you know — some guys are fighting to show that they belong in the NHL, some guys are fighting for contracts. And it’s just embarrassing, the way we, you know, the energy we have in the room and the way we approach practices and the way we approach this game. It’s not how you’re going to win any games in this league. I mean, this is a team (Calgary) that we can beat if we set our minds to it, and every day is the same story. I don’t know what to say. I’m beyond words right now.”

I don’t want to crib the entirety of his comments from Dater, so again, you can check the rest out here, but he goes on to basically say “sure, anyone can get up to play in a full barn against a team you need to be at your best to compete with like the Blackhawks, but being a pro means doing it every night.”

He’s justified in saying this. There’s responsibility on the leadership – veterans, coaches and captains – to find a way to make this team give a damn, and from what I can tell, this is him poking the bear with the stick. It’s hard when the guy you would normally turn to to grab the stick and do that is 20-years-old. Not a knock on Landeskog, just…what NHL experience does he have that justifies him standing up in the room and calling guys out right now?

The Avs are going to get a top pick, assuming their luck shakes out in the draft lottery, but it ain’t going to be fun to be on that team on the ride into game 48. The environment is going to be toxic, and that’s just the way it is for losing teams.