Colorado Avalanche: Ambivalence about Ryan O’Reilly

Jan 12, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly (90) in the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly (90) in the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

Former Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly returns to Colorado for the first time since being traded over the summer. Avs fans seem unimpressed.

You know the old adage — the best revenge is living well. You want to see your ex when you’re looking your best or accompanied by your even hotter new flame. You want to roll by your old co-workers in an expensive German car. You want to go to your high school reunion looking much cooler than you ever did as a teen.

Well, former Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly is living that dream, sort of. He left Colorado after essentially forcing a trade with his contractual demands. He then had those demands met by his new team, the Buffalo Sabres, who not only gave him a cherry contract — seven years at an average annual value of $7.5 million — but also named him an alternate captain.

Of course, he’s not looking super-cool after crashing his vintage truck into the side of a Tim Horton’s over the summer, but he is having a good season with the Sabres — O’Reilly leads the team with 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists). As Denver Post writer Mike Chambers pointed out, it’s not like the Avs are languishing since the player who provides the “salary structure” of the team, Matt Duchene, leads the team with 38 points (22 goals, 16 assists). And he costs $1.5 million less.

Now, there are always going to be inevitable questions about who won the trade. The answer has to be that it’s too soon to tell. Colorado traded two ripe players for two green ones (Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko), a prospect (JT Compher) and a draft pick. That’s a lot of future considerations — we won’t know for years how it all plays out.

In any case, former Denver Post writer Adrian Dater is interested in Ryan O’Reilly’s return. He tweeted about it:

Dater also interviewed O’Reilly — it’s actually insightful and showed very clearly how the Colorado Avalanche and Ryan O’Reilly could no longer find peace with each other.

Naturally, one thing Dater asked O’Reilly about was the potential for getting booed. O’Reilly admitted he didn’t expect “a big welcome” but that he was just going to focus on the game. In his time, Paul Stastny remarked that playing in Pepsi Center for the first time after signing with the St. Louis Blues was “brutal.”

For the most part, Colorado Avalanche fans seem pretty ambivalent about Ryan O’Reilly’s return. He wanted more money, he left, he got his payout. Some people think the Avalanche would be a better team if he were still a part of it. (I’m of the opinion that he was never going to play as hard for Colorado again as he is now for Buffalo.)

Some fans eschew the idea of booing him, while others want to boo him.

Here’s my take on the situation — I want to boo Ryan O’Reilly, and I have very strong reasoning for why.

Being a Colorado Avalanche fan is a large part of my identity, stemming in part from my being a proud Colorado native. The Avalanche are a part of my history — that’s pretty evident in some of my nostalgic posts. My love of the team (yes, even when I hate them) far transcends my admiration for any player (yes, even Erik Johnson and Patrick Roy).

Ryan O’Reilly rejected the team. He deliberately made his contractual demands too high to force the Avalanche to trade him. I’m sure he felt affronted by how they had treated him and, hey, it’s business.

Sports fandom is not a business — it’s purely driven by passion. Ryan O’Reilly rejected the Colorado Avalanche, thus rejecting something sacred to me. He had the right to make his own decision on the matter. And I have the right to be butt-hurt about it and boo him as a consequence. It’s not rational, but it’s completely honest.

I’ll get over it. I got over Paul Stastny’s decision — I only booed him for a single period. But tonight… I’m ambivalent about O’Reilly’s return, and I hope he’s as invisible on the ice as Stastny was in his return, though a Stastny-style own-goal would be nice, too.

Next: Ryan O'Reilly and the Hillside Song

How about you, Avs Nation? What’s your thoughts on the return of Ryan O’Reilly?