Thursday, January 03, 2008


Brave New World

by Greg

I actually got out to a hockey game when I was back home in Colorado for the holidays -- no small feat these days. Unfortunately, I was sick, riding the Robitussin express and popping so many pills that Hunter S. Thompson would have blanched, so my observations were limited to these:

1) Wow, the Kings suck

2) Wow, the Kings beat the Avalanche

3) Thank God, they don't have some dolt dancing to "Cotton-Eyed Joe" during TV timeouts any more (now it's Herbie Hancocks' "Rockit")

4) Wow, hot brunette in a Czech national team jersey

Other than that, I was just vaguely blissed out, watching the Avalanche lose to one of the NHL's bottom-feeders, a trend that's continued since.

Oh, and -- Joe Sakic was out, possibly the first Avalanche game I've ever attended in person without ol' Joe. A preview, probably sooner rather than later, of what Avs-fandom will be like soon.

Back in 2006, when the retirement of Steve Yzerman was met with a level of mourning usually seen after the death of one of the more popular popes, I vowed I wouldn't react that way when the time came for Joe to stroll.

I'll still hold to that, but it's gonna be kind of ugly. One of the things I noticed was the lack of a "center" for the Avalanche -- not the position center, but more of a spiritual center (I'm not totally off the Robitussin). There wasn't anyone that you could look to in times of crisis, and feel reassured.

Ryan Smyth? Close -- he was the most noticeable Avalanche, making heads-up plays, getting opportunities (none of which bore fruit, alas). Milan Hejduk? Still exciting, but always more of a complementary player than a centerpiece. Paul Stastny? A Denver Post columnist proclaimed the team Stastny's after this game -- with curious timing, since his game wasn't spectacular. At this point, strong as his first years have been, he doesn't seem to fit the bill either.

The Avalanche will continue to contend without Sakic -- they've got good hockey minds up top, and these days, it doesn't take much to rebound (and doesn't take much to contend). But for 12+ years now, they've had one player constantly there to give them an identity, and for the first time the other night, I got a glimpse of what that'll be like going forward.

Addendum: oh, fantastic.

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1. Robitussin is a sissy drug. Take NyQuil, or go home!

2. Hot Brunette. You should have introduced yourself in Czech and asked her out. What would Joe do?

3. As a Canucks fan, I'll be quite happy to have one less Canuck killer in the league...sorta...Sakic's one of the greats, but he's gotta stop scoring on us! :(
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