Colorado Avalanche Fans: Time to Accept Gabriel Landeskog

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog does good things and he does bad things, just like any other player.

Gabriel Landeskog is entering his 7th season with the Colorado Avalanche, and I think I share somewhat similar feelings as other fans do towards the captain.

There are some games Landeskog can take over and become a force not many can stop. Other games he disappears, and I forget he’s even on the team. Some games he does something mind-bogglingly stupid and get’s his team in trouble.

Even so, I still think it’s time us Avalanche fans accept Gabriel Landeskog for who he is — a 50-60 point, 2nd line, power-forward winger.

The 2nd overall pick in 2011 had an outstanding rookie season, putting up 52 points in a full season’s worth of games. He even won the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie in 2012.

The future looked so bright that Avalanche fans, and I personally expected that point total to rise to almost a point per game rate. That didn’t happen, and his point total have leveled off in the 50-60 point range.

Something that has benefitted Landeskog in his career is he has played with some really good centers. When he was drafted, Paul Stastny, Ryan O’Reilly, and Matt Duchess were already here and established as top centers (O’Reilly didn’t always play center, but you get the picture).

Even though O’Reilly and Stastny have since left, Nathan MacKinnon was added. Landeskog’s best season came during MacKinnon’s rookie season playing on a line with MacKinnon and Stastny. He’s clearly had plenty of opportunity to grow his game.

Let me just say, I like Landy and I want him on my team. He’s a power-forward who has a knack for scoring goals in tight spaces around the net. He can bull his way past opponents with relative ease, and he plays an overall heavy game. Here’s an example.

He uses his speed (something I don’t think he gets enough credit for) to get around Chicago’s Brent Seabrook. To be fair, Seabrook isn’t exactly the fastest defender. However, he was only one of Chicago’s best defenders for the past decade.

Landeskog uses a classic power-forward move and blows by Seabrook to put the puck in the net. These are the kinds of plays that make me so happy he’s in Colorado.

I also believe he can be an effective leader. He’s not afraid to stand up to anyone and is never afraid to stand up for a teammate. He plays a hard, heavy game and sometimes he has to answer to for that. Landeskog understands this, and is willing to fight if necessary.

I don’t need or want him to fight but if he’s challenged, I’d rather him show up. Here’s a perfect example.

I understand this hit may be considered high, and it probably was. But this is his game. This is when I think he is most effective — when he plays heavy.

Shea Weber immediately challenges him, as seems to be the norm now in the NHL when any player takes a big hit (my feelings on that are for another time). Landeskog doesn’t shy away from Weber and answers the bell. I like that he understands the type of game he plays can draw a reaction from the other team.

Here’s the problem. It seems Landeskog is this type of player about half the time. The other half he disappears, making zero impact on the game. The Colorado Avalanche need their captain to show up every game, not some of the time.

Another key problem when Landeskog does this is there isn’t enough depth on the wings to make up for it. If he disappears, there aren’t that many wingers on this roster I trust to pick up the offensive slack.

Now, for my biggest problem with Landeskog. There are some things he does in the moment where I think he left his brain at home. I understand this is a fast paced, intense game and sometimes emotions can get the better of you. Still, he does things like reach across the bench divider to punch Mikko Koivu. I hate the Wild just as much as the next guy, but what possible good could come from doing that?

He also does stuff like this.

Why? Why on earth does he do this. He’s a good player and doesn’t need to be a goon. He’s better than this, and he needs to show it night in and night out.

Gabriel Landeskog does good things and he does bad things, just like any other player. It’s just that I believe Colorado Avalanche fans have seen the good and get excited it’s going to grow into something even better.

Given all he has shown Avs Nation, I think it might be time we accept Landeskog for who he is; a gifted power-forward who can score, but won’t lead the team in points and will occasionally go a little overboard.

Awe heck, he’s still 24. Here’s hoping he gets even better!