Avs Need Fresh Blood to Stop the Losing

Photo by BradJones9

If you’re a fan of the Colorado Avalanche, you’re probably used to emotional highs and lows.

Just two seasons ago, they finished dead last in the West while last season saw the Avs clinch the eighth seed and then exit in the first round.

This season, after a strong start, the Avs seem to be in trouble. They’ve dropped seven in a row and that can easily run up to eight as Colorado faces the reborn Calgary Flames Monday night.

What’s gone wrong for Colorado? Injuries haven’t helped things. And I feel fairly confident in saying the answer to an overly injured team usually isn’t Peter Forsberg.

Terry Frei says the organization has cheaped out on players, refusing to import some higher-priced help.

Adrian Dater has some questions about some of coach Joe Sacco’s more recent coaching moves, including benching forward Chris Stewart for an entire game and defenseman John-Michael Liles for the entire first period of the Saturday night loss to Nashville.

Dater says he’s concerned Sacco is too tough on his team and could be on the verge of losing the room:

To me, the Liles humiliation tonight and the Stewart scratch have the potential to turn the team against Sacco. I don’t say that lightly, and I definitely am NOT saying it has already happened or that it WILL happen. But I think there’s a chance it could now.

The thing of it is, organizational cheapness often amplifies coaching issues. Sacco knows no help is on the way, so he’s trying to get everything he can out of his team. He’s being especially tough on Liles and Stewart because he knows he’s stuck with them for at least until 2012. Maybe he’s being too rough on them, but if doing nothing hasn’t helped things, I can see the temptation in trying something different.

Not that the answer is to max out cap space on high-priced free agents. But free agents present options and coaches need options. Options are what allow coaches to tinker with lineups. But when your team is young and decimated by injuries, in the absence of NHL-quality players to deploy, the only option left is how tough you’re going to be on your team.

It’s a new NHL out there, though. Teams can try and rebuild from the ground up, but it’s going to take drafting players like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby to become a successful franchise. Do the Avalanche have that much faith in their drafting skills? Or in the skills of their draft picks?

The Flyers are one of the best teams in the NHL and even they’re looking to get better at the trade deadline. Tim Panaccio says the Flyers might be interested in Erik Cole if the Carolina Hurricanes are interested in moving him. This is a great NHL team trying to get greater.

The Avs are a struggling NHL team not looking to improve.

Is it any wonder Sacco is starting to get a little frustrated? Probably because he can’t bench his owners.