Colorado Avalanche: Interpreting Joe Sakic’s Post-Season Presser

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Former hockey player Joe Sakic speaks at the 29th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis at The Waldorf Astoria on September 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Buoniconti Fund To Cure Paralysis)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Former hockey player Joe Sakic speaks at the 29th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis at The Waldorf Astoria on September 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Buoniconti Fund To Cure Paralysis) /
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Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic addressed the media yesterday and gave some clues about how the team is going to proceed moving forward.

In his playing days, Joe Sakic was known as Quoteless Joe because he might say lots of words, but they amounted to non-commital statements. Things may have changed now that Sakic is the general manger and executive vice president, but Sakic’s words still need some interpreting.

Sakic addressed the press yesterday afternoon to conclude the Avalanche’s 2017-18 season. He talked some about the playoffs and gave some hints into the future. Let’s examine what the mastermind of the Avalanche has planned.

Joe Sakic on the Playoffs

The theme of Sakic’s presser was definitely his pride in the team. Naturally, no one wanted the Avalanche’s season to end on a Game 6, 5-0 blowout at home. However, Sakic didn’t dwell on that at all.

He did acknowledge that injuries were a factor:

"“It hurts when you don’t have your No. 1 ‘D’ and your No. 1 goalie, but I give our guys a lot of credit. They battled adversity all year, it didn’t matter who was hurt.”"

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It certainly was tough having first Erik Johnson then Semyon Varlamov get injured right at the end of the season. To make matters worse, backup goalie Jonathan Bernier got injured in Game 4 of the playoffs. And Samuel Girard missed Games 2, 3, and 4 with an injury. What Joe didn’t say is that Mikko Rantanen was playing through an injury.

As Sakic pointed out, the Avalanche fought through adversity. Eventually, it caught up with them, though. Sakic thought the team ran out of gas in the last game. It certainly looked that way.

Nonetheless, Sakic expressed the same sentiment we all feel — pride for what the team accomplished.

Joe and the Needs of the Team

The quote that keeps getting bandied about is that Sakic envisions the Avalanche getting younger and faster. Here’s the actual quote:

"“We have a young team. It’s not like our guys are going to be seven-year pros all of a sudden next year for some of our younger players. We expect growth from them, but I mean we are going to stay young. In the next couple years, we may even get younger with some of our guys. We want to, if we can, even try and get a little bit quicker and faster out there.”"

Something that Sakic stated over and over was that the Avalanche planned to “stay the course.” The emphasis is on speed and skill — and sacrificing some size if necessary. And Sakic envisions the young Avs players “growing up together.”

During the presser, Sakic talked a lot about the current makeup of the team. He expressed appreciation for the fast, entertaining game. He also observed that the Avs fanbase seems to love the current inception of the team.

What’s more, he remarked more than once on team chemistry and how much the players believe in each other. Therefore, I don’t see any big changes coming up in the offseason — not even in free agency.

Sakic and Free Agency

Old Quoteless Joe always states he has no intention of making a splash at the trade deadline or free agency. Sometimes that’s true, sometimes it’s not.

There are some big names due to hit unrestricted free agency this year. The biggest is 27-year-old center John Tavares followed by 26-year-old winger Evander Kane, 26-year-old winger James van Riemsdyk and 28-year-old defenseman John Carlson.

Here’s what Sakic said about free agency:

"“Make no mistake, we aren’t going to chase it. We are going to stay the course and keep letting this team grow because they deserve it.”"

Prior to that he remarked on the process, about taking time and consulting their scouts to see what they had and what they needed to improve. Indeed, it was a lovely Quoteless Joe remark in which he talked circles and said nothing.

That said, I do believe that Sakic envisions this team “growing up together” and maybe even “getting younger.” I think the best-case scenario is he’ll pick up a couple players who are middling in age (around 27) and talent (a step or two above journeyman.)

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All in all, I think we should believe Joe Sakic when he states that the team intends to “stay the course,” which is to get younger and faster. It appears that the Colorado Avalanche are going to build from the draft up. They’re going to start with their prospects and add only a little here and there to augment what they already have.

That approach isn’t a quick one. However, it may be the best approach for the modern NHL.