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.

Comments (9)

  1. This franchise has officially lost all it’s former connections and top prospect from it’s Nordiques days … welcome to the Colorado Rockies of the old days for the next 5 yrs for this franchise.

  2. I watched them play both this year and last year for a few live games, and it was amazing just how bad they were in their defensive zone. On top to that, you could visibly see guys loafing…I don’t mean taking shortcuts or acting like they were out of shape. It was clearly “Aww, F*$% it.”

  3. The “Comments” section (of Dater’s article) is fairly entertaining and somewhat informative – Always fun to read about a fan’s perspective on their team’s “dirty laundry”.

  4. I don’t really get it. How sad can they/should they be? They’re young men playing professional hockey for a lot of money. Their season is over. Winning more games at this point is probably counter-productive at this point, anyway. If they want to have some fun with it, why not just let them? It doesn’t sound like the atmosphere should be toxic if some people are just checking out.

    • Well, the fact that the pressure is off to win doesn’t mean it’s time to loaf. It should mean that these young guys have an opportunity to work on their games with minimal negative impact if they make mistakes. Instead, they just don’t care.

    • If the call came down to throw games in order to get the first pick, then i guess that’s their MO, but if that hasnt happened, this team should still be out there trying to win every night. As quoted in the article, and echoed many many times the world over, it’s about being a professional. If you can’t show up to play every single game, then you probably are going to keep that same mentality down the line, even when the team is doing better overall. Look at Detroit. Yes they have good players and a top coach, but the single biggest asset they have is their ability to show up for every single game.

  5. Where is this actual interview? Haven’t actually seen or heard the initial source…

    • It’s that Adrian Dater blog post. He blockquoted it, so it looks like he is quoting another printed source, but apparently it’s his own transcript of his tape.

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