It started the year the Joe Sakic retirement began to look like it was written on the wall. The Avs gave up on winning. Right after the 2006-07 season: that last magic season for Joe Sakic when he scored 100 points, the Avs were beginning this pattern. They were tied for 3rd in scoring that season.
The next year 2007-08, Sakic only played 44 games and the Avs were 11th in scoring. Andrew Brunette was second on the team with 59 points. The summer of 2008 they let Bruno walk for nothing.
The 2008-09 season was the end for the Joe Sakic era. The team was 30th in scoring and desperately in need of a new leading scorer. In steps Ryan Smyth, tying Hejduk with 59 points in five fewer games. The summer of 2009 the Avs traded Smyth for what has amounted to practically nothing.
And so it begins. Since that fateful season in Avs history when Super Joe started to look human, the Avs have consistently, year after year, traded or let go one of the two leading scorers on the team.
The Avalanche have given no indication that they are interested in keeping one of the most obvious contributors to a winning team. That would be your top scoring guys. They seem to be content with hoping that Sakic’s creepy, glass-enclosed locker/mausoleum would emanate voodoo winning vibes to anyone in the locker room.
The 2009-10 season saw the parting of ways with the Avs and Wojtek Wolski. His 65 point season would have put him second on the Avs roster if he hadn’t been traded. Like the Smyth trade this was a trade destined to pan out as a dud.
The rising star for the Avalanche in the 2010-11 season was Chris Stewart. Already with 64 points in the previous season and on pace to match it when he was abruptly ushered out of town with another rising star, Kevin Shattenkirk. Granted, this trade is debatable about who “won.” But there’s no way to get around the fact that the Avs traded two high scoring guys and finished the season tied for 17th in scoring. The end of the season also saw the departure on John-Michael Liles, the Avs leading scorer from the blue line for years. Trade value? A second rounder.
The Avs were back to the depths of league scoring in the 2011-12 campaign, clocking in at 25th. Paul Stastny who has thus far avoided the curse of the leading scorer, (albatross contract) was adrift in the doldrums with only 53 points. Ryan O’Reilly led the team with 55 points. We all know how close this team came to losing their leading scorer yet again.
Granted, there have been a couple different GMs during this time but the fact remains that Pierre Lacroix is, or should be the man steering this boat. But right now this once proud ship looks to be drifting in the Horse Latitudes and that means it shouldn’t be a surprise that eventually there’s going to be a sacrifice tossed overboard.
If you want to have a winning organization why would you continuously trade or let go your highest scoring players? The Avalanche commitment to winning really has to be questioned. Is this all a strange coincidence? Going to take some convincing to make me think otherwise.
About the Author: I'm an irascible rec-hockey player, your typical ‘lunch pail’ player. A Colorado native, I was raised on Broncos football, with occasional minor league and Colorado (hockey) Rockies games thrown in. With the arrival of the Colorado Avalanche and my crazy idea to learn to ice skate (and eventually play hockey) at the age of 33, I fell in love with hockey, finally. You can find me here: Real Denver Sports and here: Twitter