Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been a fun year for the Colorado Avalanche and fans, so instead of traditional regular season awards, why not have some fun with them? Earlier this year a few Avalanche did a lip dub to “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. So I’m going to hand out awards using lyrics from Imagine Dragons songs. This idea isn’t exactly original, but hopefully everyone will enjoy.
“A monster, a monster, I’ve turned into a monster. A monster, a monster, and it keeps getting stronger” Award goes to Semyon Varlamov.
For the first two seasons, Varlamov was an average at best goalie on a floundering Avalanche team. Along came Patrick Roy and Francois Allaire. Varlamov allowed himself to forget everything he knew about goaltending so Allaire could reprogram him. The results are what we’ve seen this year. Varlamov led the league in wins and was the best player on the ice almost every time he skated into the crease. He gave the team a chance to win every night and allowed everyone in front of him to play with complete confidence.
“It’s time to begin, isn’t it? I get a little bit bigger, but then I’ll admit, I’m just the same as I was. Now don’t you understand, that I’m never changing who I am” Award goes to Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy
Same ol’ Super Joe and St. Patrick. Joe Sakic officially joined the Avalanche organization after a couple of years of just hanging around the front office and Patrick Roy took a position next to Joe and behind the bench. All of a sudden, the culture changed. Roy and Sakic made all the right moves, said all the right things, and brought in a winning culture.
“Been a long time coming for the working man” Award goes to Nick Holden.
Before this year, Nick Holden was just an undrafted guy who played seven NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He entered training camp on the outside looking in. He made the team, but was in and out of the line up for the early part of the season. Now, thanks to a lot of hard work, he’s a top four defenseman and a guy Roy trusts in key situations. Holden put in a lot of work and has turned into a key part of the Avs defense.
“Oh I love to be. I love to be the underdog” Award goes to the Colorado Avalanche Defense.
This award could’ve gone to the whole team, but the only award I want the team to get this year is the Stanley Cup. Instead, I’m giving this to the defense. They were the Achilles heel of this team and were going to be the reason why the team wouldn’t make the playoffs. They came together as a group, relished the underdog role, and look at them now.
“Everything is serious and everything is fatal. That’s what they tell you and that’s how they make you know, know I’m tired of the books and I’m tired of the tables. Everything is made with the same old labels. No, no oh oh” Award goes to Erik Johnson.
Labeled as a bust and not a true #1 defenseman, Johnson has finally started to live up to his potential this year. He played 80 games and finished with 39 points, which matched his career high. He also ended up with a +5, the highest +/- total of his career. Now everyone sees Johnson as the key to the Avalanche defense and a player with game changing ability.
“Searching to find myself. But all I find is you” Award goes to Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene.
Remember when these two didn’t like each other because O’Reilly held out for more money and Duchene took a team friendly bridge contract? That sure didn’t last long. These two thrived on the same line together this year. O’Reilly reinvented himself as a left winger and Duchene went from a dangerous goal scorer to a flashy playmaker. Both players are great on their own, but together, they’re one of the most dangerous young combos in the league.
“I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones. Enough to make my systems blow. Welcome to the new age, to the new age” Award goes to Nathan MacKinnon.
MacKinnon accepts this award on behalf of all the young players on the team. Duchene, Landeskog, and O’Reilly all made strong impressions in their rookie seasons, but MacKinnon’s first NHL season trumped them all. There was a reason why the Avs took MacKinnon over Seth Jones. He represented what the Avs knew they had the potential to become. So far so good.
“It’s too late for deciding. Oh just leave it to me” Award goes to Tyson Barrie.
“Mr. Clutch” for the Avs this season. Whenever the game looked like it was over or the Avs needed a hero, Barrie stepped up and did either scored the goal or made a big play. He’s a modern day Sandis Ozolish for this team.
“A man on a mission, changing the vision” Award goes to Gabriel Landeskog.
People thought Landeskog shouldn’t have been awarded the “C” prior to last year. And, thanks in large part to an early season injury, he didn’t exactly prove doubters wrong. This year was a different story. Landeskog returned to his Calder winning ways; putting up points and hitting everything that moved. Duchene and MacKinnon bring the speed, Landeskog brings the power.
“Oh, dig my shallow grave. It’s not me you’ll save. ‘Cause I’m a lost cause” Award goes to Ryan Wilson.
Wilson has one more year on his contract when this season ends, but could be a prime buyout candidate if the Avs can’t find anyone willing to trade a box of donuts for the him.
“Time to take it over. Look how far we’ve come. Some were never meant to come around. Some were never meant to leave the ground” Award goes to Jean-Sebestian Giguere.
Remember Jiggy’s Vegas rant last year? That seems like such a long time ago. Giguere was the one who sparked things for the Avs late last season, which carried over to this year. The team got rid of guys who didn’t want to commit to the team and brought in character players who sacrificed for the better of the team. It’s only been a year, but look how far the Avs have come since Vegas.
“I never hear those sounds that sing to me. Cha ching, cha ching, cha ching-a-ling” Award goes to Paul Stastny.
The Avs highest paid player earned his money this year. His 60 points was the most he’s had since the 09-10 season and his 25 goals were the most he’s had since his rookie year. He also finished with a +9, led the team in faceoff percentage, and scored some big goals throughout the year. Possibly the best thing the Avs did this year was not trade him and he might reward them by taking a paycut next year.
“I’m on top of the world, ‘ay. Waiting on this for a while now” Award goes to Colorado Avalanche Fans.
Ok, so maybe we haven’t suffered like every single fan of a Canadian team, but if you were a fan of this team through the Sacco Era, you know how special this season was. To go from worst in the west to third in the league was pretty remarkable. A lot of the players were the same, but the mindset changed from game one and look where we’re at now.