The Colorado Avalanche may not have a lot of tough guys on their team, but they can dispatch opponents like a praying mantis laying in on a murder hornet.
More from Mile High Sticking
- Could Colorado Avalanche move on from Pavel Francouz next offseason?
- 4 goalies to replace Pavel Francouz if he has to miss time
- Colorado Avalanche make sneaky signing with Tatar
- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog could return in 2023-24 playoffs
- Colorado Avalanche rookie face-off tournament roster
The Colorado Avalanche is not a team of goons. There really isn’t such a thing anymore. I’m re-watching the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, and they talk openly about the “muckers” on teams and how they contribute.
For better or for worse, that’s frowned upon in the modern NHL. Nonetheless, players do get in fights. Some are better at it than others.
Some downright reach the level of praying mantis.
Praying mantis? Yep, who knew those serene-looking insects who literally have the word “praying” in their name were such fierce warriors? (Well, I guess if you’ve seen their mating rituals, you have a clue.)
Recently, the news has been about an unwanted import from central Asia, the murder hornet. Everyone is horrified because these nasty insects can decimate an entire honey bee colony by themselves. And they even have the potential to kill humans.
Well, turns out this invasive species has a home-grown enemy — the praying mantis. Watch this praying mantis make short work of the murder hornet in front of her. (Warning — it’s graphic.)
Ugh. Not saying I feel sorry for the murder hornet, but what a ghastly way to die.
So, back to the praying mantis allusion. Which Colorado Avalanche players have been praying mantises in their fights? And who was their murder hornet?
Let’s start with one player who seems to be the tough-guy on the team, defenseman Nikita Zadorov. He’s been in 11 fights while with the Avalanche.
In the middle of the season last year, the Avs were playing the Nashville Predators. Nashville tough guy Austin Watson took exception to a clean hit Zadorov made and asked him to drop the gloves.
It wasn’t much of a fight from Watson’s perspective:
So, yeah, Austin was kind of the murder hornet to Zadorov’s praying mantis.
Forward Matt Calvert is a heart and soul kind of guy. He’s gutsy as all get out, and sometimes that leads to his fighting for the team. Indeed, in just two seasons with the Avs, he’s matched Zadorov in fights with 11.
In a game against the Dallas Stars this January, Calvert and Stars captain Jamie Benn were chirping each other after Benn speared Calvert between the legs. Calvert tried to get Benn to fight, but Jamie rag-dolled… and then ran away.
Then the second invitation came:
Yeah, I think Calvert might be the murder hornet on that one. It’s notable, though, that he gives up three inches and 20 pounds to Benn. Heart and soul kind of guy, like I said.
Our captain, Gabriel Landeskog, is the quintessential power forward. He’s a scorer, but he’s not afraid of the rough stuff. In his career, he’s gotten into 13 fights. A couple of the most epic ones have been captain fights.
Anthony Cirelli got tangled behind the net with Ian Cole, and the captain came in defense of his player. He ripped Cirelli’s helmet off, and they started to scrum. The refs came in and broke up the fight, but it’s what happened next that puts this clip in this post:
That’s right, our captain ripped off his helmet and dropped his gloves ready to go all praying mantis on Cirelli’s murder hornet butt. I actually think he was going to rip Cirellie’s head off, he was so furious. You could tell by the look on Cirelli’s face that he knew that, too.
Defenseman Erik Johnson is not known for fighting. As an Avalanche player, he’s gotten in just one fight a year. When he was still with the Blues, he fought a little more regularly and even dropped the gloves with Benn once. He did a little better than Calvert, but not much. In fact, he’s generally not that good at fighting.
Except this one time. One of the last real “muckers” in the NHL,
, laid a big hit on
then cold-cocked Sam Girard, and Johnson
lost his mind
That is the hockey re-enactment of the praying mantis devouring the murder hornet. You do not touch his mon chum.
Well, I know a lot of people don’t like to see fights in hockey. I’m old-school, a fan from the 1990s, so I like them. They have their time and place. Meanwhile, for being a skilled team with no “muckers” on the ice, the Colorado Avalanche do hold their own.