Colorado Avalanche Players with Midline Stanley Cup Attitude


Three very important Colorado Avalanche players are on the cusp of having a Stanley Cup attitude. For the team’s sake, hopefully they develop it.

The Colorado Avalanche have won the Stanley Cup two times, but it’s been 15 years since the last time. When the team traded forward Alex Tanguay at the deadline last season, they traded away the last Avalanche who was on that Cup-winning team.

I explored in a previous post what makes up a Stanley Cup attitude:

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This attitude is a will to win at all costs. This is Patrick Roy checking himself out of the hospital to tend goal in the playoffs. This is Peter Forsberg attempting to return after a splenectomy. Hell, this is Forsberg playing through the excruciating ankle pain he felt for most of his career.

Such an attitude is also supreme confidence. This is Patrick Roy telling his teammates “No more rats” because he wasn’t going to let the Florida Panthers score another goal at all. This is even the Roy Statue of Liberty when his over-confidence led to his dropping the puck into his own net — he had to play with that kind of arrogance to win like he did.

Yesterday I wrote about three players who didn’t seem to be displaying a Stanley Cup attitude:

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Today, let’s look at three very important players who are on the fence with their will to win and confidence.

It’s tough for me to admit center Nathan MacKinnon, captain Gabriel Landeskog and defenseman Erik Johnson are on this list. I think the problem is that the players are struggling.

Nathan MacKinnon

As far as Nathan MacKinnon goes, he’s been trying to find his NHL legs again after his (literal) award-winning rookie season. His last two seasons have been filled with inconsistency.

I feel like MacKinnon doesn’t have the same drive that he did in major juniors and his rookie year. He seems to fade away on the ice sometimes. It’s not like Matt Duchene, who may struggle to finish but who always makes his presence known on the ice. Maybe MacKinnon needs more confidence — hopefully that’s something he’s working on this summer.

Related Story: Mack Needs to Step Up

Editor’s Note: This post was written before MacKinnon signed his contract — seven years at an annual value of $6.3 million. We all know that’s going to be a bargain in the near future.

This gives me hope that we’ll be seeing a true Stanley Cup attitude from MacK Daddy.

Erik Johnson

I vacillated putting Erik Johnson on this part of the list. He has amazing leadership qualities, as evidenced not only by his play on ice but in his interviews and in the way he leads the defensemen in practices.

However, the Colorado Avalanche locker room is said to lack focus. I think Johnson is a prime candidate for lacking focus. Everyone has their hobbies, but his horse racing is bordering on obsession. He talks about horses with a lot more passion than he does about hockey — and more often lately.

I’d like to see him get out of his own head about this horse obsession. I wish he was as excited about playing for the Colorado Avalanche as he was about his derbies. However, I know he’s dedicated to the sport, and he really does have stellar leadership. Hopefully his inclusion on the Team USA roster will ignite his love of hockey, and he’ll bring that to the 2016-17 season.

Related Story: Erik Johnson is Mr. USA

Gabriel Landeskog

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It’s tough to have the Colorado Avalanche captain on this list, and I initially had him in the following. However, the great leadership he displayed during the tough 2014-15 season waxed and waned last year. He took those two undisciplined penalties that led to suspensions. He took a lot of undisciplined penalties throughout the year.

Landeskog plays hard. However, he really has to focus on playing with passion tempered by discipline. He has to get out of his own head to not only benefit the team but lead the team.

Gabriel Landeskog is preternaturally mature. I think he knows what he did wrong last season. I look to his having a strong leadership season next year.

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MacKinnon, Johnson and Landeskog are so close to having that Stanley Cup attitude, and that’s a good thing. Landeskog is our captain, Johnson is the leader of the blueline, and MacKinnon is our future superstar. If the three of them get their mojo on, the Colorado Avalanche will be in good shape.