Hello everybody! My name is Sarah, and I’m new here to Mile High Sticking (don’t start throwing popcorn, I’ll be short with my introduction and get on to real news in a jiffy). I was raised on Avalanche hockey
and wild berries, so I’m always happy to discuss my favorite team! My cat is named after Alex Tanguay (we adopted him in July 2001), and my room consists mostly of books, Avs things, and my bed.
Now that you’ve suffered through those few sentences, I have some actual Avalanche information to share. In case you’ve spent the past couple of months in a cave, the NHL is in a lockout. (Although there have been reports that the recent talks may lead to a new deal soon.) As such, three Avalanche players have flown over to Europe to play, and two have accepted jobs as assistant coaches for junior teams. Semyon Varlamov is doing really well in Russia, (9 GP, 7W). There were some people who were concerned when they heard that Varls was heading over to Russia, as he has had some problems with injuries. In my opinion, this was not only the right choice for Varlamov, it was the only choice for him. Let’s remember, he is only 24 years old. A young goalie is not going to improve by working out, and taking some shots in practice. He is only going to improve by playing in game situations. At this point in his career, Varlamov is at a critical juncture, where he is really trying to assert himself as a dominant number one goalie. If he had decided to wait out the owners and the NHLPA, he would have lost valuable time in his development timetable. It’s much better for him to be playing, and improving, with a structured schedule of meaningful games. We all know that Varlamov won the World Championships in May, and his current record is not only going to help him refine his skills, but is going to help his confidence. (An older goaltender, like Giguere, is more established, and thus, I don’t think he needs to be playing in games at this point-though that could change the longer things drag on.)
Two players are in Sweden: Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. Duchene had a pretty miserable outing last season in the Avalanche uniform, and thus he worked especially hard this summer to ensure that he would have a more productive year. (He spent a lot of this summer with Sidney Crosby, which can only have improved his talent and heightened his desire to win.) There was some interest in Duchene from Swiss teams, but he chose to play for Frolunda instead
so that he could get hair tips from Joel Lundqvist. He’s only scored one goal in eight games, but he has seven points. Hopefully, if the 2012-2013 season actually happens, he won’t go through his usual beginning of the year slump, because he’s already in middle-of-the-season-mode. Landeskog has had success too, and though we can’t quite say that there’s no sophomore slump for him, it’s looking like he is ready to keep chugging along at the pace he set all of last season. He already has five goals and three assists in nine games. (Landeskog did miss yesterday’s game due to a minor head injury-surface, not brain-but he should be back tomorrow.)
Ryan O’Reilly and Ryan O’Byrne are both doing some coaching work. The Victoria Grizzlies (O’Byrne) and the Clinton Radars (O’Reilly) both have winning records. Unfortunately, they aren’t in the same junior league, so we won’t get to hear about an epic O’Byrne/O’Reilly rivalry game. (I think O’Reilly felt obligated to stay here in North America, rather than sign a contract in Europe, because the Avs failed to come to terms with him, and he didn’t want it to appear as if he was leaving the club for good. I can’t believe that they wouldn’t settle with O’Reilly, who is well-renowned for his humility, but we’ll cross that bridge when the NHL/NHLPA get a deal worked out.)