Colorado Avalanche: Do They Need a Therapist or a Drill Sergeant?


The Colorado Avalanche dropped their fourth game straight, this time to the Florida Panthers, with a score of 4-1.

Well, Avs Nation has finally gone full mental jacket. We listened to our coach, we listened to the players, we had belief in our team. Then we watched helplessly with impotent rage while our the Colorado Avalanche fell apart in another third period to lose to the Florida Panthers.

We watched defenseman Francois Beauchemin take two bonehead penalties. We watched Erik Johnson turn the puck over in the D-zone. We watched Alex Tanguay develop an allergy to the slot. We watched Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie skate around ineffectually.

I don’t know about the rest of the Colorado Avalanche fandom, but I was reminded of head coach Patrick Roy‘s words about game management during a post-practice presser:

"“I’m not going in front of the media saying ‘Oh, I don’t know why [the team keeps losing].’ I know why. I know that we’re making some mistakes. You see those games. You see that we’re making critical mistakes at the wrong time.”"

Every team makes mistakes, but the Colorado Avalanche have developed a knack for making them at the exact wrong time.

Case in point, the team was playing a very good game against the Florida Panthers. They were leading in shots through most of the game. There was one breakaway goal on Reto Berra, but he was coming up big with a lot of saves. The Avalanche were defending, strong on the forecheck, the backcheck and the neutral zone.

Then all of a sudden the players lost their minds in the third period. Francois Beauchemin and his penalties — this man is too old and experienced to take such bonehead penalties, especially when the Avalanche’s penalty kill was so weak. Then all the mistakes that flowed after.

So, that makes me think the Colorado Avalanche need a staffing change — not a replacement, but an addition. The Avalanche needs a team psychologist on the bench. Or they need a drill sergeant.

Colorado Avalanche Psychologist

Sports psychologists are nothing new.

In fact, sports psychologists are trained to deal with the mentalities of athletes especially. They help athletes maintain focus, communicate or avoid choking. Yes, some of their techniques involve visualization, self-talk and other “pop psychology” methods.

If it were to help the Colorado Avalanche avoid choking in the third period, who cares if the psychologist recommended Brandon Gormley or Nathan MacKinnon picture the opponents in their underwear? We all agree relaxed athletes maintain their focus better and thus compete better.

If that seems a little kumbaya for you, let’s consider the alternative.

Colorado Avalanche Drill Sergeant

A drill sergeant has to be an expert in all warrior tasks. He tears his troops down so he can build them back up into efficient warriors. Drill sergeants teach their charges to feel no fear.

That does sound like something the Colorado Avalanche could use, right? The team drill sergeant could scream in their faces, badger them to face their fears with valiance and fight for the logo on their chest.

Of course, that’s what a lot of people expect the coach and the captain to be. There are plenty of leaders on the team, including a coach who doesn’t flinch from intensity.

So, I think the Colorado Avalanche should hire a team psychologist to stand behind the bench. Center Matt Duchene has talked openly about visiting a therapist to get over the traffic in his mind. I doubt he’s the only one.

I’m only half-joking when I say I’d like to see someone talk to the players about their head space. They’re choking in the third period. As captain Gabriel Landeskog points out, they’re suffering mental lapses. As coach Patrick Roy points out, this is leading to critical mistakes.

Wouldn’t a sports psychologist with a bag of therapeutic tricks help the situation?

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