Colorado Avalanche: Why Tyson Jost is So Polarizing for Fans

DENVER, CO - MARCH 5: Tyson Jost #17 of the Colorado Avalanche stretches prior to the game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Pepsi Center on March 5, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 5: Tyson Jost #17 of the Colorado Avalanche stretches prior to the game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Pepsi Center on March 5, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche have players who are having career years, but one is facing strife — some of it from fans.

Colorado Avalanche forward Tyson Jost is one of the most polarizing Avs players I can remember.  I think he’s more polarizing than the other Tyson, Tyson Barrie.

That seems a little weird for what amounts to a fourth-line forward.

I’m not going to pretend I’m objective about this topic. I’m a Jost proponent. Let’s look at the two sides of this polarizing player — his fans and his detractors.

Tyson Jost’s Fans

The NHL is real life, not a video game. There are real people behind the skills and talents and stats. Real people who have worked and tried and prayed their whole lives to get where they are. Real people with feelings.

That reality is what appeals to a lot of fans. These players are people, and we like them. As people, not just scorers on the ice.

Why do we like these players? We all have our reasons. Sure, some sections of the fanbase find them attractive — newsflash, it’s not just girls. But for a lot of us, it’s because they’re wholesome and fun. Because they can be silly or serious. Because they’re young, and we’re conditioned to appreciate youth.

And because they are so good at what they do. They have worked harder at hockey, sacrificed more for their craft, than I’m willing to do for, literally, anything. And even if I did, I don’t think I have the talent to be as good at anything as they are at hockey. And I certainly wasn’t at 18.

That’s all the players, though. What about Tyson Jost in particular? Well, he’s so popular because he is an extraordinarily personable young man. Even at his Combine, the scouts were raving about what great interviews he was giving.

He comes with a great backstory, having been raised with his sister by a single mom and his grandparents. His grandpa cried when he was drafted. He spent a year at one of the most prestigious hockey schools, the University of North Dakota. He loved it there, but he left the program to come help the team that needed him — the 48-point Colorado Avalanche.

With the Avs, he continued to create his positive storyline. He roomed with two fellow rookies, JT Compher and Alexander Kerfoot. That was the refresher year when we had four rookies dressing a night, and we were just happy to be winning hockey games.

And meanwhile, the social media team fell in love with him. He never shied away from giving content. Those of us who like players, who enjoy seeing them as people, ate it up.

And now, as he struggles, we feel empathy. We’ve all had problems in our lives, but the vast majority of us have been able to work through them in private. Tyson Jost is not being afforded that privilege — no professional athlete ever is.

And he’s not pugnacious about it. Some athletes shut down, but Jost hasn’t been so closed. He puts a brave face on the situation.

Tyson Jost Detractors

Tyson Jost has not lived up to expectations, especially this year. He’s a 10th-overall draft pick. And he has only 16 points in 57 games. That must breed dissatisfaction and even disappointment in fans.

These fans seem to approach the actual NHL like their EA video game. They just want to see their team win. They want to see goal after goal go in for their team and their goalie save them all, or most anyway.

To them, the actual NHL is just that same thrill as in their video game but in real life. It’s all about the wins, and nothing else matters. And if a player isn’t working out for them, oh well. Get rid of him.

That’s where these fans are with Tyson Jost. He’s not producing. Get rid of him. He’s just a commodity, and that commodity isn’t working out. Judging by comments on here and on social media, people are downright gleeful about that situation.

I have a theory about their glee, and it’s not flattering. See, at the age of 18 Tyson Jost got drafted top-10 into the most elite hockey league in the world. He is the literal one percent of his job. So he achieved more at 18 than the vast majority of us ever will.

Jealousy. It’s jealousy. It’s not personal against Tyson, but, ha-ha, that young buck making six figures before he was old enough to buy a beer (in the U.S.) is failing.

It makes those fans feel better about themselves. Why else would they be so gleeful to see a player on their own team stumbling? Why would they make stupid jokes and offer to drive Jost to the airport after a trade except that his stumbling makes them feel better about their relative lack of achievement?

The others? The ones who just point out he’s not making his numbers? I guess they’re just analytical sorts.

Why I’m a Jost Fan

More from Mile High Sticking

I’ve met Tyson Jost three times, and he’s been utterly kind in each instance. That’s not so noteworthy because hockey players in general are.

However, the last time I met him was after practice when I wanted my Tyson Jost jersey signed. He was sweet about signing it and even put a smiley face under his autograph. However, it’s what happened before that stands out.

There were a handful of kids who wanted pictures or autographs. He took the time to talk to each and every one, asking them questions and making comments. Ahead of me was a boy with Down Syndrome. He walked up to Jost, pointed to his Ray Ban shades, and said, “I like your glasses.”

With utmost sincerity, Jost looked at the boy’s spectacles and said, “I like yours, too. Those are nice glasses.”

That’s a little moment, but I can tell you that boy was touched. That’s just the kind of person Tyson Jost is.

Why do I like Tyson Jost besides that? Well, don’t discount how refreshing it is to see genuine niceness in a young man in this day and age.

But I also like him because he’s funny. He’s not afraid to make fun of himself even while he’s chirping others. But yet he’s got just as sweet a side. And a smartass side. And we have the Avs social media team to thank for bringing this all to our attention.

Tyson Jost is a person to me. He’s not an animated uniform that’s failing to perform up to my standards. He’s a young man whose grandpa cried when he got drafted and again when he scored his first goal. He’s a story line. And, to be honest, the more he’s struggled, the more I’ve wanted to stand up for him.

His situation reminds me of what now-teammate Andre Burakovsky said to The Athletic of his time in Washington. He’d been in a similar situation with the Capitals, seeing limited ice time and producing very little.

Burakovsky remarked that he was coming into his one-year show me contract with the Colorado Avalanche after two or three “tough years” in Washington, when he couldn’t break out there like he’d hoped to. He said of his feelings:

"“I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about it. You really don’t know what your future is going to look like. If you’re going to get another chance if [you] have another bad year.”"

He was already 24 at the time and had been in the NHL for five years, so he should have had more to fear than the 21-year-old Jost.

But I’ve got to think Jost is going through similar struggles when he says the following to Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic:

"“There’s a lot of lonely nights. Especially being that I care so much and I work so hard and I’ve spent my whole life working at this. You know me, I care so much and I want to do well. So, it is tough but I just go out there every night and work as hard as I can.”"

That hurts my heart. He’s got irrepressible good humor — another endearing quality — but it seems a little repressed there.

And that’s why I’m so… enraged when people who label themselves as Colorado Avalanche fans make jokes or otherwise put Jost down. This is a young man with feelings, and he’s probably going through hell right now. He could be questioning if he’s good enough to be in the NHL, if he’s worked his entire life for a dream he desperately wants that might not come true.

Why not have a little empathy for a kid who is such a good person? The kind of kid who goes out of his way to reach out to fans? The kind of kid who just aims to be happy-go-lucky while working himself non-stop?

What kind of person looks at a kid with the backstory of Tyson Jost and just callously makes fun of his pain?

Not anyone I want to call a fellow Avs fan. I don’t care if that’s how the business is. We’re not the front offices — we’re supposed to be fans. There are 30 whole other teams — why not hate on their players?

The Colorado Avalanche may well trade Tyson Jost within the few hours we have left before the Trade Deadline. There will be… people who just root for a winning team cheering about the trade. And there will be Avs fans crying.

Because a simpatico player who’s at a struggle point in his career has polarized Avs Nation. I’m happy with the side I’m on.