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Well, the Avs Nation has been aflutter, delighted that hockey season is back. After today’s media day, though, a few are feeling unnerved. Nonetheless, Colorado Avalanche hockey is back, so let’s take a look at what the front offices revealed.
Head coach Patrick Roy and Guru (ok, Executive Vice President of hockey operations) Joe Sakic were in fine form. Both expressed their faith in each other, in the team and in the ownership. Sakic commented:
"“Our ownership has been incredible. Nobody wants to see the team win a championship more than Stan and Josh Kroenke.”"
Coach Roy had words of praise for Sakic:
"“I’m very excited about this year. I think Joe did a very good job putting the team together.”"
Ok, with the niceties out of the way, coach Roy did have more to say about what Colorado Avalanche hockey is going to look like in the 2014-15 season:
"” We continue to search for excellence. That’s what this team is all about. At the end of the day, the partnership on the ice is more valuable than the math.”"
One of the questions plaguing the Avalanche for the upcoming season is if they can overcome their fear to meet and exceed the expectations placed on them this season. During his June press conference, Roy said plainly that overcoming fear is what makes winners. At today’s press conference, he elaborated:
"“What can we do to get to that next level? I think it’s simple — we need to continue to grow and continue to learn.”"
Don’t worry, coach Roy did get more specific. In fact, he released his top two line combinations — which was enough to titillate Avalanche fans, they’re that good:
Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Alex Tanguay
Ryan O’Reilly-Matt Duchene-Jarome Iginla
Those are two very strong lines, each with a power forward, elite scorer and skilled center — in some cases more than one of each as you can add those labels to more than one player.
Denver Post sports writer Mike Chambers dampened the festivities in the Twitter-verse with the following tweet:
Most people knew Ryan O’Reilly and Max Talbot underwent off-season surgery. Most fans also knew Jan Hejda was injured — and had surgery — right before the playoffs, and Gabriel Landeskog received a hand injury during the playoffs. Mitchell, of course, missed the entire playoffs with concussion symptoms.
The Jamie McGinn and, especially, Patrick Bordeleau news seemed to catch fans by surprise. Plus, the fact that Patrick Roy had to read the pre-camp injuries off of a list made fans uneasy. Roy’s a showman, though, and he could have been indulging in a bit of theatrics — setting the stage for the Avalanche players and Avs Nation to enjoy underdog status a little longer.
That said, Chambers explained the injury situation further. McGinn had back surgery and isn’t quite 100 percent. Mitchell is suffering from migraines that coach Roy says are unrelated to his concussion. Landeskog, O’Reilly, Talbot and Hejda are all “day to day,” which is not bad considering game days that count are still three weeks out.
Patrick Bordeleau Injury
Coach Roy stated that Bordeleau had back surgery in the off-season, and he’ll be out for three months. That sounds like a serious surgery — and for an injury that was unsuspected. Back in March he revealed a hand injury, which was given as the reason for his not fighting. Nothing about a back injury requiring back surgery.
Bordeleau, of course, has his role on the Avalanche as their resident enforcer — it’s even how Bordeleau describes himself in his Twitter bio. With Bordeleau out for the first half of the season, that does leave a bit of a hole grit-wise for the Avalanche. Sure, the Avalanche still have scrapper Cody McLeod, and they’ve acquired Brad Stuart. However, it is Patrick Bordeleau The Hockey News listed as the number-three fighter in the NHL.
Ok, Avs Nation, let’s return to those dreamy top-two lines for a second. Duchene is coming in hot, and by all accounts MacKinnon is coming in even hotter. Iginla is adding bulk, and Tanguay is healthy again. Landeskog and O’Reilly are day-to-day — they still have three weeks to heal.
The Avalanche are also stacked in the bottom-six. McGinn is day-to-day. Daniel Briere is a capable center — he can fill in for Mitchell. Jesse Winchester already has chemistry with the team — a very important member of the team anyway, Duchene. Joey Hishon may be added to the mix.
Sakic said of the injury situation:
"“We needed work on our depth and team toughness, and I think we did a pretty good job by filling those needs in the offseason. We feel like we’re as deep in our organization, as we’ve ever been. And that was one of the main goals. We know injuries happen; we don’t want them, but we feel like if we have them we’ll be OK.”"
In short, we have more to celebrate than lament.