Colorado Avalanche: The Shots on Goal Mystery

Oct 5, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) makes a save on a shot by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson (6) during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 5, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) makes a save on a shot by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson (6) during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The Altitude Network feed of the Colorado Avalanche doesn’t include shots on goal. Here’s a light-hearted look at what might be going on.

How come the Altitude broadcast of Colorado Avalanche games doesn’t include a shot counter? I live in North Carolina. I watch a lot of Carolina Hurricanes games because they are the local team, and their games start at 7PM EST. I can watch a Canes game and then transition right into an Avs game, which typically starts at 9 or 9:30PM EST.

The Hurricanes are part of the FoxSports network. Every single team that’s part of the FoxSports network features a Shots category next to the team and score in the upper-lefthand corner.

I’ve noticed that every team that’s not part of the FoxSports network, does not have a shot counter as part of the in-game boxscore. Why is this? I can’t speak for other teams, but I did a little digging and got to the bottom of why Altitude doesn’t include the Shots counter for Avs games.

First, I reached out to the Avalanche on Altitude broadcast team. I talked with in-game analyst Peter McNab. He’s been with the broadcast team since 1997. If anyone would know, it would most likely be him.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t really need them anyway. I have a running shot counter in my head during the game. When the game is over, it’s forever stored in my brain. Quick. Ask me the shots on goal during the Valentine’s 2013 game against the Wild.”

I had no choice but to ask, Peter McNab has some type of mind control. “How many shots did the Avs and Wild have when they played on February 14, 2013.”

“The Avs outshot the Wild 32-29,” he quickly answered.

I didn’t know if he was correct. I’m not a human shots on goal robot. I took him at his word, thanked him for his time, and moved on.

Next, I spoke with Mike Haynes. Like McNab, he’s been with the team since 1997. He was almost certain to know the answer. “They do, I just don’t see them,” he answered. I was confused, so I asked him to clarify. “They have them. They just aren’t shown on my screen because Peter keeps a running shot count in his head. So, whenever I need the shots on goal, I just ask him instead of my screen. It allows me to focus on the game 100% I don’t even have the goal bar on my broadcast.” “McNab?” I asked. “No, I can keep count of the goals. I’m not an idiot,” he answered like I was the idiot.

With McNab and Haynes being too smart to need the shot counter, I went to Mark Rycroft. I was very excited to talk with Mr. Rycroft. He’s my favorite Avalanche player to ever wear #20 during the 2007 season. I was very nervous to speak with an Avs legend, but I had a job to do.

Rycroft was very blunt with his answer. “Who cares? Nobody wins based on shots on goal. You win on the scoreboard. All we need is the scoreboard.”

Well, Mark. I care. Plenty of fans care. That’s why they asked me to get to the bottom of this story. Do you think I want to ask you about why Altitude doesn’t keep shots on goal? Of course not. I wanted to ask you for Joe Sakic’s autograph. But the people demand to know about shots on goal. So just answer the question.

Of course, I didn’t say that to him. Instead, I thanked him for his time and left.

I only had more option at Altitude. New signee Lauren Gardner. Unfortunately, Lauren couldn’t shed any more light on the subject. “They don’t? It’s my first year. I watch the game in-person so I don’t know what the broadcast looks like,” she replied.

I was disappointed that the Altitude team couldn’t provide a concrete answer, but I chugged on. If they didn’t know, certainly someone on the team would know. So, I went into the locker room and interviewed the players.

Every single player gave me the same answer. “Ask Patrick.” Patrick? What Patrick were they talking about? Patrick the video guy? Patrick the guy inside the Bernie costume? Patrick Bordeleau? There was defenseman Patrick Wierioch, but even when I asked him he said, “ask Patrick.” So I asked him again and he just shook his head before walking away. WHO WAS PATRICK?!?!?!

I asked new head coach Jared Bednar, just who was Patrick? “Patrick? Patrick Roy, probably. Are you the guy asking about shots on goal? Knock it off. They have a game to prepare for.”

More from Mile High Sticking

Ah yes, Patrick Roy. I should have known that the “Patrick” in question was former Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy. It’s been long speculated that the Avs and Altitude pulled the shots on goal counter due to the demands of Patrick Roy. That he was unhappy at the uneven totals and didn’t want fans to get the wrong impression about his team.

I didn’t believe Roy would actually grant me an interview, so when my request to interview him was denied, I was not surprised. However, I would not be stopped. I wrote Mr. Roy a letter, figuring that was the best way to contact him since he enjoys leaving people letters when he leaves. Here is what Patrick wrote back.

“Dear Mr. Lambert. Thank you for contacting me on this very important subject. I am glad that I can finally clear my name in this topic because it has come to my attention that many people believe that I am the reason for Altitude not having a shot counter. This is incorrect. I always believed that Altitude should have a shot counter, especially when I played. Why wouldn’t I want the shot counter? I wanted everyone to know how many saves I had.

“When I retired, I didn’t think much about it. But when I returned as a coach, I questioned why it wasn’t on the broadcast. But I didn’t want them to add a shot counter. I wanted them to add the Corsi percentage. Shot counters are old way of thinking and keeping stats. Altitude should have been ahead of the curve. Adding a Corsi stat would have shown forward thinking that every broadcast, team, and coach should show. My request was denied. And after my third straight year of denial, the Avs were out. And that is why I truly left the organization. Signed, Patrick Roy.”

I was floored. He actually typed “Patrick Roy” in his letter instead of signing it, thus denying me of an autograph. Patrick Roy, always a goalie.

I seemed to be at a dead end. The Altitude broadcast team had no answers, the players and coaches had no answers, the former coach had no answer. I reached out to Joe Sakic and Chris MacFarland, but they were too busy scouting Columbus Blue Jackets game for the next great sixth defenseman to get back to me.

As I was getting ready to exit the Pepsi Center, disappointed after coming up with no answers, I was pulled into the office of Stan Kroenke.

“Are you looking for the reason as to why the Altitude broadcast doesn’t keep SOG?” This man asked.

I nodded, still startled by being ambushed by a man in a hoodie. While the man wore a Casey Jones mask, I could tell that this was not Stan Kroenke. I did not know who this man was.

“I can tell you. But you have to swear that you’ll never reveal who you got this information from. I could be in big trouble if it gets out that I told you.”

No problem. I still didn’t know who this man was. I nodded in agreement.

“Stan thought SOG stood for Signs of God. We tried to tell him different, but he wouldn’t listen. He just stayed silent. He was convinced that SOG was Signs of God and he didn’t want to mislead the fans. If the score said 3-1 Avs, but the SOG said 27-21 opponent. The audience would believe that the opponent was winning as they had more Signs of God, the truest sports fan of us all and the reason why teams win, lose, and play the game. So, Stan got rid of SOG. Forever.”

I couldn’t believe what I just heard. Was this man telling the truth? It sounded believable. But how could I trust a man in a hoodie wearing a Casey Jones mask?

Next: Debating Patrick Roy with Music

He released me from his clutches and immediately disappeared. Like, legit disappeared. He just vanished. He was there. Then he was gone. I took a moment to compose myself before exiting the building, firmly believing in SOGs.