Stastny Doesn’t Have to Face Former Team


“You can obviously go somewhere and get more money somewhere else. But if you have something good and you want to stick with it, that hometown discount is obviously something that everyone’s aware of and is important to do.” – Paul Stastny, March 2014

It’s a typical narrative — hockey players change teams and end up playing


their former teammates. Colorado Avalanche acquisition Jarome Iginla has already faced the Boston Bruins, Daniel Briere the Montreal Canadiens, Brad Stuart the San Jose Sharks… you get the point. It’s relatively commonplace.

However, when Paul Stastny left the Avalanche over the summer as an unrestricted free agent to join the St. Louis Blues, it was wildly unpopular with Avs fans. For one reason or another — or several — we felt betrayed.

Stastny’s Rationale for Leaving Colorado

Some fans blamed the organization for not caving in and increasing Stastny’s paycheck to the $7 million a year he currently earns with the Blues. Personally, I was never on that bandwagon. Head coach Patrick Roy — who has the final say in player personnel — referenced the typical habit of setting up a certain player as your ceiling. Matt Duchene is that ceiling, and he makes $6 million. Paul Stastny is not better or even as good as Matt Duchene — why should he make more money?

A lot more fans were mad at Stastny. He had repeatedly hinted that he would give the Avs the “hometown discount,” or accept less money to stay with his team. That seemed reasonable considering several factors. For one, Stastny had attended two years of college at Denver University. For another, he’d been drafted by Colorado. He’d spent his entire career up until that moment in an Avalanche uniform. Plus, hey, Colorado is a destination move — people maneuver their whole lives around just so they can come live in this state. (Stastny even returned over the summer to get married in Vail.)

Needless to say, Stastny did not give Colorado the home town discount. Instead, he went for more money with the St. Louis Blues. I was fine with that — money is a personal decision, and I think most of us would be hard-pressed to not go where we’re offered more money. (Unless the job was onerous, and it’s not like Stastny went to Minnesota.)

A lot of Avalanche fans felt betrayed by the fact that he turned his back on what was supposed to be his “home town,” Colorado. Indeed, everyone in St. Louis touted Stastny’s move as “coming home.” Stastny grew up in the area when his father, Peter Stastny, got traded to the St. Louis Blues. Considering how much I love my state of Colorado, I was a little less settled with that situation, but, hey, a former co-worker of mine actually grew up playing tennis with Stastny’s sister in St. Louis. Plus, I’ve always returned to Colorado, so, again, that’s his personal decision.

Many Avs fans hated the fact that Stastny left for a division rival, a team Colorado had such difficulty with in the 2013-14 season. Well, the Blues are contenders. It stinks that Stastny will be playing for the enemy, but that was a personal decision, too. Of course he wants to play for a competitive team.

Stastny’s Betrayal of the Avs Nation

On July 1, as the Avs Nation was lamenting Stastny’s leaving, though, a few whispers started coming across social media. Stastny hadn’t thanked his former team. Stastny hadn’t said anything about how much he enjoyed his time in Colorado — all he did was reference repeatedly how “tough” the decision had been and how he had to keep discussing it with his fiancee. Decisions are hard for a lot of reasons, though, and he never came out and said it was hard to leave the Colorado Avalanche.

As was pointed out repeatedly across social media that day, Stastny never even came out and thanked Avalanche fans — not in a press interview nor on social media did Stastny thank the people who supported him for years. Because he was popular in Colorado, and the Avs Nation supported him through all those lean years.

Suddenly, the watch was on. Stastny was on social media that day, July 1. Apparently he was casually watching the World Cup and enjoying himself immensely:

Then, after a little re-tweet about the World Cup, it was radio silence. For 48 hours in the summer, when there was very little else hockey-related going on, Paul Stastny left his former fan base and former team hanging. Finally, on July 3, he released the following off-hand tweets:

I can’t speak for the rest of the Avs Nation on this one, but for me, it was too little, too late. It’s simply a matter of form to thank your former team and, most importantly, your former fan base. It’s not hard, and it doesn’t have to take long. You don’t need to weep and wail and lament, but you do need to be timely. It should have been something Stastny did when he made the announcement publicly — it should have been part of his spiel as he was talking about how “tough” the decision was and how he had to talk it over with his fiancee:

"“It’s a tough decision. I had good teams interested in me, and obviously the Avs were always one of those teams. I think in the end, you almost have to take a step back, take all of the emotions out of it and try to realize what’s best for me hockey-wise, not just next year, but two or three or four years down the road. My family — my fiancée and I — thought that probably going to St. Louis would probably be the best hockey decision for me.”"

Hey, in the emotion of the moment, maybe Stastny forgot. (Granted, Colorado goalie Reto Berra remembered to do it, thanking the Calgary Flames as he got traded last-minute back in March — and he barely speaks English!) However, it takes 30 seconds to 1 minute to type up a quick tweet — especially considering Stastny clearly was on Twitter that day. Especially considering that, while the decision took the Avs Nation somewhat by surprise, Stastny knew. He could have drafted the tweet ahead of time. Hell, if it was “too tough,” he could have had his agent draft it.

Judging Paul Stastny

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Right now, the St. Louis Blues — who did


have qualms about paying Stastny more than their legit stars, David Backes and TJ Oshie — are paying $7 million for Stastny to sit on injured reserve. (Stastny out with an injury — happened every year except the first that he was an Avalanche.) So, Stastny will not be in the lineup when the Avalanche play the Blues for the first time in Scottrade Center.

That’s ok with me. I think it’s far more fitting that the first time Stastny plays against his former team is on December 13, right here in Colorado in front of the fan base he could barely be bothered to thank. No worries — I’m confident that fan base no longer exists for him. Because I choose not to judge Stastny for personal decisions based on money, career and family.

I do, however, choose to judge a man who makes more in a year than I will likely make in my lifetime for his lamentable lack of loyalty and gratitude to the fans who helped pay that salary. December 13 — I may very well boo Stastny louder than I ever cheered for him — and that was pretty loud.