Colorado Avalanche: Gabriel Landeskog’s Fallen Stock as Captain

Feb 9, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) reacts to the lose to the Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center. The Canucks defeated the Avalanche 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 9, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) reacts to the lose to the Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center. The Canucks defeated the Avalanche 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The current Colorado Avalanche captain might well be more valuable to the team on the trade block than as a returning player next season.

The Colorado Avalanche need to make some radical changes during the off-season to even become a relevant team again, much less playoff contenders. The front offices have been dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the core at least since 2011. However, it’s become increasingly apparent that this core of players is insufficient to carry the team.

Gabriel Landeskog was drafted second overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2011. He assumed the captaincy the following season, 2012. He still holds the record as the youngest-ever player to be named an NHL captain.

My most recent support for Gabriel Landeskog’s captaincy:

Related Story: Complexity of Captain Landeskog

Last Year’s Captaincy

Last season, Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog’s captaincy started being called into question. I vehemently disagreed at the time, and with good reason. Last season Gabriel Landeskog showed a lot of leadership.

In this current age of goal tending and defense, scoring isn’t easy to come by, so Landeskog’s scoring droughts can be forgiven. Last season, during his epic December scoring drought, Landeskog nonetheless made sure opponents felt his presence on the ice, whether it was from a big hit, a well-timed fight or a play he helped make.

What’s more, his presence to the media suggested he wasn’t making excuses in or out of the locker room. He expressed dedication to winning no matter how far down in the standings the Colorado Avalanche were — his “We’re going balls out all the way” last February became a battle cry for Avs Nation.

Once the Colorado Avalanche were eliminated from playoff contention, his leadership came fully to the forefront. He promised that the team would put on a top performance for pride in the logo and, most importantly, for the fans. The Avalanche played three playoff bound teams and beat every one at home.

Gabriel Landeskog’s Captaincy This Season

This season, that Gabriel Landeskog has been absent. I don’t know if the two facial hits he took early on in the season made him tentative, but he’s come to view losing as acceptable.

That acceptance became crystal clear after the frustrating 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at home. During a post-game presser, Landeskog emphasized the positives from the game and then said the words that were damning to my ears:

"“In the third we let up a little bit too much.”"

Here’s the interview:

At first blush, those words are a little like Matt Duchene’s controversial celly — innocuous and understandable. However, look at them a little bit more closely and with an eye to what one of the Avalanche’s main problems has been this season — third period collapses. “We let up a little bit too much.”

The players shouldn’t be letting up in the third at all. If the score is 4-1 for the Avalanche (ahem, opening night), the players should be fighting to embarrass the other team and take it to 5-1, 6-1, 7-1. God knows other teams have done it to them (ahem, Washington Capitals).

Landeskog should have been furious with the team letting up at all. He should have said, “While we had a good first period, we erased that by letting up in the third period.”

Better yet, Gabriel Landeskog should have never allowed the team he captains let up in the third. If that took a big hit, a fight or a fit of temper, then that’s what he should have done. That’s what leaders do.

Instead, Landeskog has spent this whole season doing the exact opposite — making excuses, taking penalties at the exact wrong time (another Avalanche ill this season) and even taking not one but two suspensions at critical times for the team.

I also haven’t heard any words from him about how the team intends to play for pride, logo and the fans as this season has imploded for the Colorado Avalanche.

Lament for Landeskog

I like Gabriel Landeskog. I like his style of play. I like what he did at the beginning of the season with the team-building trip to Aspen. I usually like his interviews.

I think Gabriel Landeskog has it in him to be a capable leader, maybe even an excellent one. However, as a former teacher, I can also tell you that there are plenty of people in this world who don’t live up to their potential no matter how much support you give them.

Gabriel Landeskog has had a lot of support, including from head coach Patrick Roy. Indeed, even as coach Roy was recently talking about lacking leadership on the team, he supported Landeskog.

I’m hoping he said that to increase Landeskog’s trade value — Patrick Roy is ever a mastermind. Because I really like Gabriel Landeskog, but recent events have stripped me of my sentimentality for the current core of players.

Next: Landeskog and the Captaincy

The Colorado Avalanche are losers. The players accept defeat. As long as the players accept defeat, the Colorado Avalanche will continue to be losers.

I remember when the Colorado Avalanche were winners. I want them to be that again. If that means getting rid of one good-looking, affable player because he’s the wrong captain for the team… well, like I said, the recent brouhaha surrounding the team has cleared my mind.

I prefer to back the men who have been proven winners for this team.