Colorado Avalanche Players with the Most Stanley Cup Attitude

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The four Colorado Avalanche players on this list need to lead the rest of the team in developing a Stanley Cup attitude.

The Colorado Avalanche have missed the playoffs more often than not in recent years — the majority of the years for the young core. The team has so much talent, yet they’re just not getting into the post-season.

Every Avs fan has an opinion as to why, and I’m no different. To my mind, it’s a lack of a Stanley Cup attitude.

This is the fourth post in which I’ve explored this idea — explaining the phenomenon in one post and going through players who have little Stanley Cup attitude and those who are striving:

In short, the Stanley Cup attitude is about winning at all costs. It’s about going to a sports psychologist if you’re obsessing. This is about speaking up in the locker room no matter the type of player you are. This is about the hunger to win that’s a greater motivator than anything in your life.

I’m a little surprised at how many Colorado Avalanche players I ended up including on this list.

When I first had the idea for this post, it was right after the debacle that was the end of the 2015-16 season. I was so mad at the players. I thought there wasn’t a single one of them who deserved to wear the same logo as my heroes of the Golden Years. (I really was very angry.)

However, with time has come perspective. As I was re-writing my description of what comprises the SCA, I realized these players seem to display those qualities.

Calvin Pickard

Let’s start with goalie Calvin Pickard. I think he’s the goalie of the Colorado Avalanche’s future because of his confidence. Look at the sparkle in his eye as he hears the cheer of the crowd after he achieved his first-ever NHL shootout victory:

Even coach Roy has remarked on Pickard’s swagger. That’s the kind of confidence that makes Calvin clutch.

Pickard’s talented, but not as much as Varlamov. However, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to improve. If the first 100 ways he tries something didn’t work, he’s on to the next 100.

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Francois Beauchemin

Next we have defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who’s a fierce competitor. At the beginning of last season I was a little annoyed because he wasn’t buying into the moral victories party line. But that’s an uncompromising will to win.

He also has excellent leadership qualities. He took charge of the blueline. While he didn’t step all over Erik Johnson, he certainly ran the defensive corps like a drill sergeant. In one game, he even gave EJ some hell for being out of position!

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Cody McLeod

Speaking of players who give others hell, there’s the controversial Cody McLeod. No one can question his heart. No, he’s not the most talented player out there. But I have never seen a shift in which Cody McLeod didn’t leave it all on the ice. If some of the core players operated with as much passion and work ethic as McLeod, the Colorado Avalanche would be regulars in the playoffs.

Matt Duchene

Finally, we get to the one core player who does play with that much passion and work ethic — Matt Duchene. He has a Stanley Cup attitude that would have been right at home in the roster of the 1990s.

Duchene has proven that he’s willing to do anything to win. He’ll play through pain and injuries — remember his manly goal? He’ll even play with mental uncertainty.

During the 2015-16 season, he was the center of trade rumors and controversy. He struggled at the beginning of the season. Coach Roy indulged in rare criticism of a player after Duchene celebrated his own goal during a loss.

Matt Duchene reacted with Stanley Cup attitude. He learned from coach Roy and his own videos to get back to scoring goals. He used the rumors as fuel to play better. He apologized for angering his coach and put his head down to work even harder.

What’s more, Matt Duchene has admitted he has a tendency to get into his own head. Rather than try and tough it out like most players do — and which never works — Duchene just got himself a sports psychologist. He’s simply winning to do whatever it takes to win.

Role Players

I didn’t really include role players in this exercise of evaluating the Stanley Cup attitude. As I’ve said before, such players have to play with heart and grit and 100% effort just to stay in the NHL.

If I wanted to add some of them to this list, though, I’d definitely put center John Mitchell in the most SCA category. He’s another player who leaves it all out on the ice. Nick Holden would have been there, too, but he got traded to New York.

It’s obvious when a role player doesn’t show enough will to win — he looks like the batteries went out of him. And then head coach Patrick Roy makes him a healthy scratch. That’s what happened with big winger Andreas Martinsen and the cheeky Mikhail Grigorenko.

When it comes to the NHL, the driving will to win is what separates a winning team from a losing one. And that passion and commitment combined with talent makes a team a Cup contender.

Hopefully the Colorado Avalanche can get that Stanley Cup attitude again.